HAMPTON, GA (March 8, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team gave a valiant effort in the Nationwide Series Nicorette 300 on Saturday afternoon. The field was set by owners points from the 2007 season, due to inclement weather that washed away qualifying on Saturday morning. Ragan started in the 12th position, but ran in the top 10 all day until an air pocket in the fuel line on lap 197 put him out of the top 10. Ragan finished the day in the 16th position.
Ragan started the race in the 12th position, but quickly lost a few spots the first 20 laps. On lap 25, Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was tight center off, but was handling well enough to mix it up in the middle of the pack. A debris caution flew three laps later. Crew chief Mike Kelley called Ragan to the pit stall on lap 30. Upon entering the pit stall Ragan was in the 16th position. Kelley called for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. A good pit stop by the pit crew allowed Ragan to exit the pit stall in the 12th position.
The adjustments made brought the Discount Tire Ford Fusion to life. Ragan made up a lot of ground over the next 20 laps and settled into the 10th position by lap 48. The caution flew the same lap for a two-car wreck. Kelley told Ragan to stay out. Ragan said his Ford Fusion had really good balance. It was evident the Discount Tire Ford Fusion was responding well to the track conditions.
The race was restarted on lap 52.
The next 35 laps saw Ragan move around the running order, settling in as high as ninth and as low 15th. A cycle of green-flag pit stops began on lap 84. Ragan was called to the pit stall on lap 85 for adjustments. Kelley ordered for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew ripped off a blazing 14 second pit stop which allowed Ragan to get back in the lead pack a few laps later.
On lap 96, Ragan was in the 15th position and closing in on the top 10. On lap 142, the caution flew for a fifth time for a three-car wreck in turn four. Kelley called Ragan to the pit stall the same lap for major adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Ragan exited the pit stall in the ninth position.
Ragan and the Discount Tire team rallied the next 25 laps, gaining track position every lap. Ragan was among the fastest in the field on lap 168. Ironically, Ragan commented on lap 169 his Ford Fusion was getting looser every lap. The handling problems did not affect Ragan’s performance. The caution flew again on lap 172 when leader Kyle Busch blew a tire getting into turn one. Kelley called Ragan to the pit stall for the final time on lap 172. Kelley ordered a track bar and wedge adjustment. The strategy paid off as Ragan exited the pit stall in the first position.
The race went green on lap 175. Ragan battled to stay in the top five the next 15 laps. Ragan tussled with NASCAR superstars like Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards for track position. On lap 188, a four-car wreck put a halt to the action. The race was red-flagged while safety crews cleaned the track. The yellow came out on lap 191, and the race was restarted on lap 193. Ragan’s Ford Fusion had an air pocket in the fuel line as he pushed down on the throttle. The Ford Fusion was bottled up in traffic and forced into the wall hard by another competitor. This incident brought out the caution and the race finished on a green-white checkered flag. Ragan was able to get to pit road for quick adjustments. The Discount Tire pit crew got Ragan back on the track before he went a lap down and salvaged a 16th-place finish.
"We had a solid run until that white flag lap. We were close on fuel and burped on that last restart and tore the right side off of it. I feel like a little bit of pit strategy and a couple of cautions that could have fallen our way, we could have had a top five run. We had a solid top 10 car all day. It's just one of those things that happen and we have to learn from it. Still managing to finish where we did, we are fortunate that there were only two laps left in the race.”
Ragan will compete next at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 15th in the Sharpie Mini 300. Ragan is currently fourth in Nationwide Series Championship standings.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.