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February 26, 2008 10:04 AM

Ragan Survives Rain-Delayed Auto Club 500 to Earn a 14th-Place Finish

FONTANA, Calif. (February 25, 2008) -- Rain was the theme of the weekend at California Speedway.  The bad weather began on Friday and continued throughout the weekend.  Qualifying on Friday was rained out therefore the field was set based on last year’s points, putting Ragan starting 24th.  The rain continued into Saturday, allowing the teams to get in only a few laps of practice before Sunday’s Auto Club 500.  Rainy skies postponed the start of the race on Sunday and would ultimately move the conclusion to Monday.  Ultimately, Ragan survived the rain, lack of on-track practice time and two-day race to earn a solid 14th-place finish in the Auto Club 500.

David Ragan headed to California Speedway with a brand new No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion and was looking to rebound from Daytona and earn a solid finish at California.  Rainy conditions took away his chance to qualify his car on Friday and left NASCAR to set the field based on the 2007 points standings.  This put Ragan in the 24th starting position for the 250-lap event.

The rainy weather continued into Saturday, drastically limiting the amount of on-track time each competitor received and ultimately raining out the NASCAR Nationwide race.  Without qualifying and only a few runs on the track, no one in the garage knew what to expect on Sunday, but they did expect the rain to continue.  As predicted, the rain continued and delayed the start of the race.  Eventually it stopped and it was finally time to go racing. 

From the drop of the green flag, Ragan began to work his way forward, picking off fellow competitors one-by-one.  By the first caution of the day, on lap 14, he had worked his way up to the 15th position.  The car was handling really well when he was by himself, but was a little snug in traffic.  Ragan came down pit road under caution for four tires and fuel.  His team had a great pit stop and Ragan gained three spots, setting him up 12th for the restart on lap 20. 

Unfortunately, on the same lap the green flag was displayed, the yellow shortly followed for an incident which collected four fellow competitors.  They believed the cause of the accident was a few wet spots that remained on the track so NASCAR red-flagged the field and went to work drying the track.

A little over an hour later, the field resumed green flag racing.  While Ragan was running 10th, on lap 39 the caution came out again…for more rain.  This time, it was a brief mist so Ragan pitted for four tires and fuel and was back on the track for the green flag restart on lap 47.  Ragan maintained his position inside the top 15 with a car that was handling “pretty neutral.” 

On lap 81, the caution was back out for more rain.  This time around, the rain was coming down much harder so NASCAR parked the cars on pit road and let the drivers get out.  Ragan returned to his Cup hauler, still suited up, ready to get back in the car as soon as the track was dry.  NASCAR tried to dry the track for hours, but water kept seeping through onto the racing surface.  Around 11:15PM PST they officially made the call to move the race to 10:00 AM Monday morning. 

Thankfully, Monday turned out to be a sunny clear day in California, perfect for racing.  The field resumed green flag action on lap 90 with Ragan in the 19th position.  From there, he once again made his way forward through the field and was up to the 11th position before coming in for a green flag pit stop on lap 122.  This time around, Ragan needed the car to turn a little better, so his team gave him four new tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. 

Ragan continued throughout the morning with a car that handled well and only needed minor air pressure adjustments.  Ragan did his job on the track and his crew continued to turn out fast pit stops to maintain his track position.  By the end of the 250-lap event, Ragan crossed the finish line in the 14th-position while his teammate Carl Edwards won the Auto Club 500.

“It just feels good to get this race in,” said Ragan.  “I feel like our AAA Ford was probably a little better than a 14th-place finish. I thought we had a top-10 car for most of the day, and then track position; we just weren’t in the right place at the right time. There were a lot of guys taking two tires. We could get stretched out long enough, just couldn’t get caught back up. The car was pretty good, and certainly we could make it a little better. But, it’s good to get some points back after Daytona. We’ll just have to move on to Las Vegas.”
 
ALL OF ROUSH FENWAY RACING RAN PRETTY WELL FOR MOST OF THE DAY. “It just shows that we have put a lot of effort into our Car of Tomorrow program, certainly for this year. We had a pretty successful test out here and in Vegas, so hopefully that will show up. And, like I said, we’ve been working hard because this is the future of Cup racing. It’s good to get a race in out here in California after waiting here for four days.”

NEXT UP:
UAW-Dodge 400
1.5-miles Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nev.
Sunday, March 1, 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. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.

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