FORT WORTH, Texas – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team regained their form this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The team had struggled a bit in Nashville but bounced back with a great run in the Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300 on Saturday afternoon. The field was set by owner points due to inclement weather on Thursday evening. Ragan rolled of the starting grid in the seventh position and stayed in the top 10 for much of the race, securing a brilliant eighth-place finish when all was said and done.
It was a beautiful day at Texas Motor Speedway. The temperature at the start of the race was 67 degrees. The Discount Tire team was anxious to get back on the track and show what they could do after a lackluster performance in recent weeks. The team had average practices on Thursday, but crew chief Mike Kelley thought the Discount Tire Ford Fusion would react brilliantly during race conditions. Ragan was instructed by Kelley to stay aggressive early and try to stay in the lead pack. Ragan did just that, running in the seventh position the first 25 laps.
On lap 34 Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was a little tight on late exit. The handling problems continued for the next 10 laps. Ragan fell to the 12th position, but a green-flag pit stop was just a few laps away. Ragan was called to the pits on lap 56 for major adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment. Upon exiting the pit stall Ragan was in the 15th position.
Ragan maneuvered through the pack the next 30 laps running the high line on the race track. Ragan found some speed during the long green-flag run, gaining three positions and settling in the 13th position by lap 80. A debris caution slowed the action on lap 91. Ragan said his Ford Fusion was loose through the middle. Ragan was called to the pits on lap 93. Kelley called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
Ragan restarted on lap 96 in the 11th position. Ragan proceeded to lay down some of the most impressive lap times of the young season. Ragan gained four positions the next 50 laps and was the fastest car on the track on lap 150.
The Discount Tire team braced for one last green-flag pit stop. On lap 153 Kelley ordered Ragan to the pit stall for four tires and fuel. A great effort by the pit crew put Ragan in the eighth position upon exiting the pits. The caution flew just three laps later when the No. 41 hit the wall in turn four. Kelley told Ragan to stay out and take advantage of the good track position. It was a great call that allowed Ragan to stay in the eighth position when racing resumed on lap 159. For the next 20 laps Ragan put on a dazzling display of skill and patience, fighting through lapped car traffic and passing many cars still on the lead lap. On lap 178 Ragan was in the sixth position and the fastest car on the track. The action was halted yet again when an untimely caution flew on lap 189. A decision whether to stay out or pit loomed large for the Discount Tire team.
Ragan stayed out with the race leaders. On the restart on lap 193 Ragan was in the third position behind the No.18 of Kyle Busch and the No. 29 of Jeff Burton. Ragan drove his Discount Tire Ford Fusion like a mad man, trying to keep his track position and fend off other drivers with fresh tires. Ragan and the Discount Tire team managed to take the checkered in the eighth position. Ragan’s fourth top-ten finish of the season.
"This was a nice run for us,” said Ragan. “You always want to run a little better than you did, but what a great rebound from a few weeks ago. We just didn’t have enough to secure a top five there at the end. I was doing everything I could to hold off some of those guys behind me. I think we made the right call to stay out on the last caution because it may have been too difficult to get back in that top 10 if we had come to the pits. It was a good run for everyone at Roush Fenway Racing, a solid point’s day."
The eighth-place finish leaves Ragan fourth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action next Friday, April 11th at Phoenix International Raceway.
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.