SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) – David Ragan may be in his second full season of running in the Sprint Cup Series, but he is still a rookie when it comes to road courses. This weekend was the Sprint Cup Series first of two events held on a road course and marked Ragan’s second attempt at the 1.99-mile Infineon Raceway. Ragan was stacked up against road course ringers and competitors with more experience, but managed to make great strides from last year and gain experience. Ragan qualified a disappointing 38th, but survived damage during the race to bounce back for a 24th-place finish.
The team struggled through Friday’s practice session with a combination of a driver adjusting to an unfamiliar track and the team trying to find the right setup to help out the driver. All of which left Ragan and his team not sure what to expect for qualifying. Ragan had an early draw and with a clean track only managed to qualify 38th. Ragan needed all the track time he could get during practice on Saturday, but with the Nationwide Series competing in Milwaukee this weekend, he had to cut short final practice in order to make the race in his Nationwide Car.
Ragan finished fourth in Milwaukee and rested up for 110-laps at Infineon Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The team felt they had a good setup in the car and Ragan made it his goal to gain experience and finish the race. From the drop of the checkered flag Ragan maintained his track position and continued to do so as the field stretched out around the course resulting in long green flag runs.
After 30 laps into the race, Ragan told his team that he wheel hopped the curb and made contact with another competitor which brought out the caution flag. The left side of the No. 6 AAA Ford was damaged, which sent Ragan down pit road for repairs. His team gave him four tires, fuel and did the best they could to repair the damage, which included removing some sheet metal so that it would not rub the tire.
Ragan restarted 39th on lap 33 and just a few laps later crew chief Jimmy Fennig reported to his driver that his lap times were looking good. With the vote of confidence from his crew chief Ragan began to advance through the field. With the help of the field cycling through green flag stops Ragan worked his way up to 20th by the time the next full course caution was displayed on lap 70. Ragan once again pitted for four tires and fuel. This time down pit road Fennig told Ragan he could make it the rest of the way. Ragan restarted 26th and looked safe to go the distance.
Another caution came out on lap 103 and Ragan had dropped back to the 30th position. With nothing to lose since they were in the back anyway, Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires and fuel. The call not only gained them one spot for the restart, but also set them up with four fresh tires for the debacle that was about to unfold in the closing laps.
The front runners got into each other bringing out the caution in the closing laps and set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Ragan went from running 29th all the way up to 24th when the checkered flag waved. The finish dropped Ragan to 14th in the point standings, but the team looks to rebound back next weekend at New Hampshire.
“Well, at least we finished the race and earned some points,” said Ragan. “My team did a great job helping me out and giving me what I needed here at this road course. My AAA Ford was good; I think it’s just inexperience on my part. But, every little thing helps and we’ll keep getting better and better. It’s an improvement from last year and I’ll just keep trying harder.”
Lenox Industrial Tools 301
1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway
Sunday, June 29, 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.