TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2008) – David Ragan led the way for Roush Fenway Racing with a fourth-place finish at Talladega. The No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was fast in practice and Ragan knew he had a competitive Ford that would draft well. Ragan proved what he and his team knew by qualifying sixth with a time of 51.400 seconds around the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Ragan worked his way up as high as second in a race where drafting partners is the name of the game. When it came to the end he was the lone Ford, but held his position on the bottom to earn a fourth-place finish.
From his sixth starting position Ragan wasted no time making his way towards the front of the field. By just the seventh lap he was up to second position sandwiched between Tony Stewart and had Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The first caution came out a few laps later at the misfortune of his teammate Matt Kenseth who cut a tire and made contact with the wall. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires and fuel. Others opted to stay out or just take two tires, the different pit strategies set Ragan up 11th for the restart on lap 23.
Restrictor plate racing comes down to making smart moves on the track and having drafting help, all of which can come and go instantly. Ragan had teammate Jamie McMurray tucked in behind him and together they gained track position. The camaraderie was short-lived, but Ragan benefited and was back up to second by lap 59. A few laps later Ragan pitted with the lead pack under green for four tires and fuel. Fennig held Ragan a few seconds longer on pit road to make sure the AAA Ford was packed full of fuel which set Ragan behind on the track, but he quickly made up the track position.
Green flag racing continued and once again it was time for Ragan to pit under green. He came in with the lead pack for two right-side tires and fuel and stayed in the top 10 until the second caution flew on lap 116. Ragan came down pit road for two left-side tires and fuel and returned to the track maintaining his top-five position.
The third caution came out on lap 143 when the 20 made contact with the wall. Ragan used this opportunity to come down pit road for the final time and took on two right-side tires and a full tank of fuel. The pit stop set him up 13th for the restart on lap 148 and Ragan was now on his own for the remaining 40 laps.
Ragan continued to hold his line on the bottom of the race track and maintain his running position, but as the laps dwindled down he found himself the only Ford in the top five. Ragan had a strong car, but didn’t have teammates for drafting help. He partnered with who was fast and crossed the finish line in the fourth position. The fourth-place finish is Ragan’s top finish so far this season and moves him into 15th in the points standings, just 35 points out of the top 12.
“I was probably being as conservative as anybody out there, because I probably didn’t have that many friends that would go with me.” said Ragan “So I had to do what I could to take care of myself and then really couldn’t worry about everybody else. It would’ve been nice to have some teammates up there. It looks like some of our teammates and our Fords had a tough day today, so I was kind of alone up there with all the other manufacturers. For the most part, the best move that I made was just not making a move all day, just staying in line. It was a very solid day for our AAA team. We had solid track position all day, which allowed us to take care of our race car. We weren’t in the back beating and banging. We never had an over-heating issue like some of the other people I saw have. So, it’s just a good, solid day when you can qualify well, we had good stops, and it’s always a lot of fun having a good Ford engine underneath the hood. It would’ve been cool to race back to the checkereds and try to win, but a fourth place we’ll take and try to get a win next week at Richmond.”
JIMMY FENNIG – crew chief, No. 6 AAA Travel Ford Fusion – “He’s doing a heck of a job. David Ragan, he’s here, he’s for real. Just if somebody would realize it and help him out there once in a while, we might’ve won this race. He’s doing an awesome job.”
HE WENT TO THE FRONT A NUMBER OF TIMES TODAY. “He had a good car, and he got in and out and worked the draft okay, and we’ll just go from there.”
Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400
0.75-miles Richmond International Raceway
Saturday, May 3, 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.