LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 1, 2009) – Las Vegas is all about gambling and taking chances, but no one would have bet on engine woes affecting Roush Fenway Racing. Ragan started 35th and gained 11 spots in just the first six laps. The No. 6 was a little too free for Ragan, so over the course of two pit stops, adjustments were made and everyone felt like the UPS Ford was going to be strong. Unfortunately, a few laps after the changes were made, the engine started to “pop” as Ragan described it, but fuel and oil pressure levels were still normal. Half a lap later the engine expired and Ragan’s day was over, leaving him with a disappointing 42nd-place finish.
After a less than desirable 35th-place qualifying effort, the team had their work cut out to get the UPS Ford race ready. They did just that, using all the allotted practice time on Saturday to get the No. 6 UPS Ford ready for 285-laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ragan started 35th and gained 11 spots on the track in just six laps. One lap later the caution was out for engine woes for Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth.
The field stayed on the track and returned to green flag racing on lap 11, but the fact that Kenseth had engine issues so early in the race was on everyone’s minds. All that could be done was to push that aside and focus on the race. The UPS Ford was a little too free for Ragan and a long caution-less run led to green flag pit stops for the field. Ragan came in for his service on lap 52 and was given four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. A few laps later, after pit stops were completed, the caution flag was again displayed.
Ragan’s Ford was still too free and was turning out lap times slower then needed to be competitive. With nothing to lose, crew chief Jimmy Fennig called Ragan down pit road for a few more of the same adjustments that were just given to him. The field returned to green flag racing on lap 65 with Ragan running 21st. A few laps later disaster struck.
Ragan reported to Fennig that the car was “popping really bad” down the straightaways. Fennig instructed Ragan to switch over his boxes inside the car, Ragan did just that and the oil and fuel pressure gauges showed the engine still had pressure. A few laps later the engine “locked up” and quit working. Ragan coasted to the garage while his crew took one look and knew their day was finished. Ragan completed 72 laps and finished a disappointing 42nd.
“On the restart the car just started skipping and popping and we switched ignition boxes because I felt like it might just be something small,” said Ragan. “But it kept getting worse and worse and just wouldn’t go down the straightaway. I’m pretty proud of our UPS car so far today. It wasn’t great, but we picked it up some and seemed to be in decent shape to make some more adjustments, but it looks like something just let go in the engine. All of the engines come from one source and they all do a great job, knock on wood. In four years at Roush Fenway, this is the first time I’ve had an engine failure. Things like this happen when you are always trying to get the most out of the things and I’m just disappointed it had to happen this early in the race. I wish we could have at least got to race some more.”
Kobalt Tools 500
1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 8, 2009