DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 11, 2009) – Speedweeks kicks off each year at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night under the lights with the Budweiser Shootout. The Shootout is a 75-lap non-points event consisting of 28 cars, the top six cars from each manufacturer plus one wild card entry per manufacturer. With NASCAR banning testing during the 2009 off-season, the Shootout has turned into a very important warm-up for the Daytona 500. The qualifying order for the race is set based on a random draw held Friday night at the Speedway. David’s draw happened to be 16th, putting him in the middle of the pack for the start of the race while Paul Menard, a fellow Ford driver, picked the pole position.
Ragan had a fast UPS Ford in practice and was looking forward to starting the season off on a good note for his new sponsor, unfortunately, his night would come to an abrupt end just four laps into the race. With restrictor plate racing at Daytona, drivers are at the mercy of the pack and tend to gain and lose positions multiple times throughout a lap. Teammates are crucial when it comes to drafting help and with seven strong Fords it seemed like a good night was in store. By the time lap one was complete Ragan had jumped up to 13th and then was shuffled back to 19th by lap three. On lap four, someone ahead of Ragan checked up, causing Ragan to check up. Unfortunately, the car behind Ragan did not slow down and ended up getting into the back of the UPS Ford. The contact sent Ragan hard into the outside wall and ended his night right then, resulting in a 26th-place finish.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Ragan. “Our UPS Ford was fine the first few laps and someone on the outside just got checked up and it was a chain reaction. I don’t know who was behind me, I think it was the No. 7, but he wasn’t really paying attention and just drove into the back of us and kind of made a mess. We were having a good time. I felt like our UPS Ford was just as fast as it needed to be to win the race and certainly just a couple laps in you’re just feeling everything out and checking everything to make sure it’s as normal as it should be. It’s just a typical deal here at Daytona and Talladega. When someone gets checked up usually two or three rows back, someone doesn’t see it. We’re going to be ready for the 500. We’re going to have a good car that’s capable of winning the race, but I’m just disappointed for all the UPS fans and employees, and everybody at Roush Fenway who have worked hard. We could have won this thing tonight; it’s just disappointing to hear the noise in the background and me standing in here.”
Tomorrow Ragan will qualify the No. 6 UPS Ford. This will set the front row for the Daytona 500 and the field for the Gatorade Duels held next Thursday. The Duels will officially set the field for the Daytona 500.
2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Thursday, February 12, 2009