LOUDON, N.H. (September 14, 2008) – For the second weekend in a row the rains came on Friday forcing NASCAR to cancel qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series. The lack of qualifying set the field up by points, which put Ragan starting 14th. Ragan had a fast Ford and gained track position until he got caught in the wrong spot at the wrong time. The No. 18 spun on lap 82 in front of Ragan causing Ragan to check up hard, unfortunately, teammate Jamie McMurray wasn’t able to check up as quickly and made contact with the back of the AAA Ford. The impact bent the fuel intake which made refueling on pit stops very slow and inefficient. Due to the damage, Ragan’s AAA Ford couldn’t take on as much fuel per pit stop causing Ragan to pit more often than others and on top of that the car wasn’t handling as well as he needed. Ragan spun out 20 laps from the end with a little help from behind, but kept it off the wall and rallied back for a 28th-place finish, while teammate Greg Biffle won his first race of 2008.
Everywhere the Sprint Cup Series visits the rains seem to follow, luckily for the most part, the race goes on a scheduled. The Series’ trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway was no different; Mother Nature brought rain and forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying on Friday. The rains popped up again Sunday morning and left many questioning if the race would go on as scheduled. Miraculously the rain stopped while gloomy skies remained, allowing NASCAR time to dry the track and get in the 300-lap event in Loudon.
Ragan went into the Sylvania 400 14th in points, which, due to the rain, turned out to be his starting position. From the start of the race the AAA Ford was handling well and Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that he needed it to turn a little better under throttle through the turns. Ragan had worked his way up to 11th by the time NASCAR threw the “competition caution” on lap 35. Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. His team had a great stop, but a few other competitors either opted for two-tires or no-tires causing Ragan to lose a few spots on the track.
Ragan restarted 13th on lap 41 and settled into a rhythm while making consistent laps around the track. The No. 18, who went into the race at the Chase leader, struggled throughout the event and on lap 82 spun in front of Ragan. Ragan checked up so hard he locked his brakes and his teammate who was right behind him wasn’t able to check up as hard and got into the back of the AAA Ford. Ragan pitted to repair the damage and the team quickly realized the impact had bent the fuel intake hose. The bent hose slowed refueling and cost valuable time on pit road. The team did the best they could to repair the damage and sent Ragan back out on the track 35th for the green flag restart.
Ragan pitted a total of six more times for fuel, fresh Goodyear tires and slight air pressure adjustments throughout the remainder of the race. Mostly the quantity of stops was due to the lack of fuel entering the car each time, cutting down on valuable fuel mileage.
Ragan had worked his way up to 28th by lap 281 when he would once again be involved in a caution. Again he got some help from behind, but this time the contact sent him spinning off turn two. Ragan kept the AAA Ford off the wall and came down pit road under caution with minimal damage. Ragan received four tires and fuel from his team and was 30th for the green flag restart on lap 281. From there he was on his own with the AAA Ford to see what he could salvage from the race. Ragan hung in there until the end and left New Hampshire with a 28th-place finish.
“The 18 was kind of all over the place and just spun out,” said Ragan. The spotter said that he was in the middle of the track and I just slowed down too quick. I locked up the brakes and I guess Jamie and some of those guys were coming hard from behind and just didn’t have anywhere to go. If we could have dodged that one, I felt like we had a good car today to contend for a good run, but after that we just struggled getting fuel in it and had poor track position all day. When someone is spinning out and there’s smoke everywhere, all you can do is just try to slow down and I just basically stopped and the 26 didn’t have anywhere to go.”
Camping World 400 presented by AAA
1.0-mile Dover International Speedway
Sunday, September 21, 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.