TALLADEGA, Ala.(October 5, 2008) – Restrictor plate racing at Talladega Superspeedway tends to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, and this weekend was no exception. Blown tires, ten cautions, two red flags and 28 different leaders culminated into Tony Stewart taking home the victory. David Ragan had a fast AAA Ford and was a force to be reckoned with throughout the 188-lap event. Ragan blew a motor in practice which had him starting at the back when it came time to race, but he wasted no time drafting his way to the front. An incident on pit road returned Ragan to the back of the pack, but he once again marched right back to the front. Ragan avoided all the cautions and was the lone Ford when the checkered flag fell earning a third-place finish.
Friday brought about two practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series. David Ragan was looking strong in the first practice when engine woes struck the No. 6 team. The team was forced to pull the primary engine and put in the backup. They wasted no time making the swap and were able to get Ragan on the track in time to get a few laps in final practice.
Saturday was time to qualify and Ragan made his way around the track in 51.38 seconds, which put him starting 16th for the main event on Sunday, while fellow Ford Racing driver Travis Kvapil claimed the pole position. Unfortunately, with the engine change in practice, Ragan was forced to start at the back of the pack. Luckily a few other strong competitors suffered similar fates in practice and were at the back of the pack with Ragan. With plenty of drafting help Ragan was ready for the race to begin.
From the drop of the green flag Ragan wasted no time drafting his way towards the front. Ragan was patient and made calculated moves which paid off when he took over the lead just 17 laps into the event. The lead was short-lived as competitors swapped back and forth between running the top or bottom to try and gain positions.
The first caution of they day came on lap 35 for debris on the track. The entire field pitted under caution and Ragan took on four tires and fuel. As Ragan was pulling out of his box he got spun around by another competitor trying to pull into his pit stall. Ragan straightened his Ford out and came back down pit road the next time around so the team could survey the damage. There was a hole in the front end of the AAA Ford so his team patched it up and sent him back to the pack.
Ragan restarted 33rd and continue to work his way forward jockeying for position. Ragan was up to ninth when he was hit by pieces of a blown tire off the No. 33 car which brought out the caution on lap 81. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig called Ragan down pit road for two tires, fuel and to make sure there was no damage to the AAA Ford. Once service was complete Ragan was in the clear to restart 13th on lap 87.
Ragan held his ground over the next 100 laps and was up to ninth on lap 174 when an incident occurred involved 12 competitors, four of which were fellow Fords. Ragan narrowly avoided disaster with the help of spotter Tony Hirschman directing him through the melee. The field was red flagged and Ragan knew he would have his hands full when they returned back to racing.
Ragan restarted the race in fifth on lap 179 just to have the caution come out a few short laps later on 185 as his last remaining Team Ford member Jamie McMurray spun and injured his No. 26 Ford. The stage was set for a green-white-checkered finish with Ragan in the sixth position. In the closing lap Ragan had gotten up to fourth while the dicing occurred in front of him. The No. 01 passed the No. 20 below the yellow line coming to the checkered flag causing him to be penalized and scored at the tail end of the lead lap. The penalty bumped Ragan from fourth to third on the leader board. Ragan’s top-five finish boosted him to 117 points ahead of 14th place in the Championship standings.
“We’re happy with a top five and fortunately we didn’t get caught up in that wreck in three and four, but I’m a little disappointed,” said Ragan. “We had a car that could have won today. On the final lap the No.31 just fell off a little bit behind us and it would have been tough to pull out and make any moves without any help from behind, so I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t have done anything else there at the end. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time and it was a solid day for our AAA team. We’ve got great superspeedway cars. The guys back at the shop really put a lot of effort into these two races. It was a good day, but I wish it could have been a little more. We’re certainly disappointed that we were not in that chase for the championship, but 13th is something to be proud about and that’s what we’re working towards. We just need some more runs like today, but it still would be sweet to get a win here pretty soon.”
Bank of America 500
1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Saturday, October 11, 2008
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.