LEBANON, Tenn. (March 22, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 COATS/ Discount Tire team rolled into the Pepsi 300 on Saturday afternoon at Nashville Superspeedway with very high expectations. The team had gotten off to a very fast start in the series this year and has been among the elite in every race. Unfortunately the day started off slow due to a sub par qualifying session and a bit of bad luck during the race. Ragan and the team started in the 26th position but found themselves behind the eight-ball halfway through the race due to a pit road commitment line violation on lap 126. Ragan managed to recover from the penalty and an ill-handling race car to finish in the 21st position.
Ragan rolled off the grid in the 26th position. Ragan wanted to get out of the middle of the pack as quick as possible. There were a lot of young drivers trying to find their way early on and Ragan was determined not to get caught up in the fracas. Ragan managed to pick up seven positions the first 30 laps of the race, but his good fortune was short lived. On lap 49 Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was tight center off and sliding the nose. On lap 55 Ragan said his car was getting tighter by the lap. The ill-handling was evident when Ragan lost three positions on one lap. Crew Chief Mike Kelley told Ragan to stay calm and trust in his ability to handle the race car. A much needed caution flew on lap 60 for debris on the back-stretch.
Ragan was called to the pit stall on lap 61 for major adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment. The COATS/Discount Tire pit crew was able to make all of the adjustments in fewer than 15 seconds. Ragan gained four positions upon exiting the pit stall.
On the restart on lap 64 Ragan was in the 19th position. The next 60 laps saw Ragan climb to as high as 13th. The COATS/Discount Tire Ford Fusion came to life, but it was short lived. On lap 111 Ragan said his Ford Fusion was bouncing all over the race track. The longer the run, the worse the handling became for Ragan. Ragan went one lap down on lap 122.
On lap 126 Ragan and the team made a scheduled green-flag stop. As Ragan tried to get on pit road a fellow competitor spun in front of him impeding his vision of the commitment line cone. Ragan was penalized for a commitment line violation on entry onto pit road seconds later. He was called back down pit road a lap later for a pass through. The penalty put Ragan two laps down and out of the chase for a good run. The No. 6 COATS/Discount Tire team kept working hard to improve their position and never gave up during a tough day. Ragan finished the race and secured a 21st place finish.
“It was definitely a disappointing day,” said Ragan. “We had handling problems all day long. The pit road penalty didn’t help either, but we never gave up and we tried some different adjustments that may help us down the road. I am confident we will bounce back from this. We have a solid team and a lot more racing to do this year. I would not count us out just yet.”
The 21st-place finish leaves Ragan fourth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action April 5th at Texas Motor Speedway.
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.