LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) - David Ragan didn’t have to play his odds and gamble in Vegas. Instead he put in a solid on-track performance and earned a seventh-place finish, his first top 10 of 2008. Qualifying did not go as well as the team would have liked, which left Ragan starting in the 38th position, but from the back of the field, Ragan paced himself and methodically advanced through the field. The team only made minor air pressure adjustments over the course of eight pit stops and Ragan overcame going a lap down early in the race to rebound back for a seventh-place finish, while Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards went on to win his second race in a row.
Friday’s qualifying sessions came right after Nationwide practice in which Ragan’s No. 6 Discount Tire Ford got away from him in turn three and sent Ragan into the wall. The damage was too severe to fix and Ragan’s Nationwide team was left to pull out the backup. With this weighing heavily on Ragan’s mind, he immediately had to head out to pit road to qualify his No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion. Ragan was a little conservative in his qualifying effort which put him starting 38th for the 267-lap event.
Qualifying in the back of the field proved not to be such a bad thing. The No. 6 AAA Ford was handling well and Ragan began to move his way forward through the field, picking off competitors one at a time. His first opportunity to pit came just 10 laps into the race while he was running in the 33rd position. Ragan came in for just four tires and fuel. His Ford didn’t need any chassis or air pressure adjustments and Ragan continued his trek towards the front.
Ragan had worked his way up to 25th by the time green flag pit stops began around lap 47. Ragan came in for service under the green flag on lap 59 and once again took four tires, fuel and no adjustments. The caution came out a few laps later while Ragan was still 25th, but now he was one lap down to the leaders. The car was now handling a little free so, while under caution, Ragan came down pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. The move gained Ragan one spot and set him up 24th for the green flag restart on lap 74.
Being a lap down set Ragan’s focus on trying to become the recipient of the “Lucky Dog” award and get back on the lead lap. By lap 96, Ragan was running 19th and had one more car to pass to be in position. Just a few laps later, on lap 105, he accomplished that task and only needed a caution to get back on the lead lap. Luckily, he wouldn’t have to wait long. The No. 20 hit the wall and brought out the caution on lap 108, Ragan was now in the 18th position and back on the lead lap.
With nothing to lose, Ragan pitted under caution for four tires and fuel. Ragan was the last car on the lead lap and could only go forward from there. By lap 150, he was solidly in the top 15 and continued his forward movement. Under caution on lap 162, crew chief Jimmy Fennig made the call to gain some track position and brought Ragan down pit road for just two tires and fuel. Ragan restarted 11th and was well within reach of the top 10. Ragan pitted a total of two more times with only minor air pressure adjustments.
Ragan cracked into the top 10 on lap 238 and had worked his way up to ninth by lap 262 when two cars in front of him made contact and wrecked. The field was red-flagged while safety crews went to work cleaning up the debris and Ragan was now sitting seventh for the two-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Ragan held his track position to the checkered flag.
“We needed to get some points back, so this is big,” said Ragan. “Certainly seventh place is kind of a bonus. I feel like we had a good car, but starting in the back and getting a lap down early, we were just fighting an uphill battle all day long. The AAA pit crew did a good job on pit road. We still have to work on our program in qualifying and restarts in a few areas, but a top 10 is great just to get those points and give us a little momentum going into the new few races.”
Kobalt Tools 500
1.54-miles Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 9, 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 and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.