MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2008) – The cold rainy weather followed NASCAR to Martinsville for the weekend’s events. Luckily for David Ragan and the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion it didn’t cancel qualifying, or delay the race because they had a fast car. Ragan was in the top five in final practice and when it came time to qualify he proved he had a very fast Ford. Ragan made his way around the 0.526-mile paperclip track in just 19.814 seconds, fast enough to earn the fourth starting position for Sunday’s 500-lap event. Ragan held his position in the top five for the start of the race until he lost valuable track position on a pit stop and battled the rest of the day to gain it back. Ragan gained track position and survived all 500 laps to earn an 11th-place finish.
The weather was finally nice enough for the field to get in qualifying, opposed to starting on points, which was exactly what crew chief Jimmy Fennig wanted because he knew they had a very fast car. Ragan was fast in practice and Fennig knew they could qualify much better than where they would start if qualifying was rained out and the field was set on points. Ragan proved Fennig right by laying down a lap of 19.814 seconds around the 0.526-mile track. The time was fast enough to set Ragan up fourth for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500.
Right from the drop of the green flag Ragan held his track position in the top five with a Ford that was handling really well, so well he had taken over third for a few laps before settling back into the fourth position. Ragan was still in fourth on lap 43 when the second caution came out. Ragan’s AAA Ford was still pretty good, but it had started being a little tight on exit. While under caution Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The car stalled when Ragan attempted to leave his pit box. Luckily he quickly got the car re-fired, but the mishap had cost him valuable track position. Now Ragan had gone from fourth to sitting 15th for the restart on lap 48.
Shortly after a restart on lap 57 Ragan’s spotter, Tony Hirschman, came over the radio and said, “you’ve got them spinning in front of you, stay to the outside wall.” Ragan listened to his spotter and avoided the accident. The field resumed green-flag racing on lap 64 and now he was up to eighth thanks to a few fellow competitors spinning out in front of him. Ragan held his track position in the top 10 for the majority of the race, pitting only for minor air pressure and track bar adjustments.
Ragan’s final two pit stops both came under caution on laps 362 and 388. Both times Ragan received four new tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. Multiple cautions towards the end of the race shook up the pit cycle among the competitors and Ragan seemed to be on the right side of the cycle, but was sitting 13th with 100 laps remaining. Ragan moved up to 11th by lap 470, but just ran out of time in the race to take over 10th from the No.07. Ragan finished 11th while Denny Hamlin won the race.
“Track position is the key here,” said Ragan. “I feel like we had a good car, a car that could have contended for the win if we were in the right place at the right time, but those guys gambled on fuel and we made the right call coming in and getting some tires. The lapped cars raced us pretty hard there at the end. It was a good effort, but a little disappointing when you have such a good car and you don’t quite get the finish you want, but we’ll take it. We got some good points and we’re coming back here again, so we’ll just have to do a little better job next time.”
1.5-miles Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Sunday, April 6, 2008
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.