LINCOLN, Ala. (May 4, 2014) – Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) rookie Ryan Reed led the opening 29 laps of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Talladega Superspeedway. After a career best qualifying effort of fourth, the American Diabetes Association Drive to Stop DiabetesSM presented by Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang had a strong start to the race before a mid-race accident halted the effort, relegating the team to 24th.
“The guys gave me a fast Ford Mustang,” Reed said. “I hate it for my guys because I felt like we put ourselves in contention and led a lot. We got up front and led some of the race and knew we had a fast race car and were just trying to stay out of trouble.”
Friday’s three-round qualifying session netted the team its best start of the season and Reed’s career-best start, lining up fourth.
At the drop of the green flag on Saturday afternoon, Reed wheeled his No. 16 Ford Mustang to the front of the pack. The Bakersfield, California native led the opening 29 laps of the race, the first laps led in his NNS career.
Crew Chief Seth Barbour called his driver down pit road for the first time of the day on Lap 30. The team opted for four tires and fuel. Several teams decided to take two tires during the opening round of pit stops, which dropped the No. 16 back to ninth.
Reed tried to climb his way back through the pack during the next run. Contact resulting from a Lap 44 caution brought the No. 16 Ford Mustang back down pit road for right side tires and to assess the damage.
The 20-year-old driver restarted 24th on Lap 49. On Lap 62, the No. 16 was collected in a major accident, bringing the car behind the wall for repairs. The crew worked fast to fix the damage, sending Reed back onto the track in 28th, nine laps down to the leaders.
The team completed the remainder of the laps, gaining four positions, crossing the finish line in 24th.
“These last few weeks we’ve been building momentum,” said Reed. “We may not have had top-fives to show for it, but we know the gains we’re making and we know we’re getting better each week. I’m not worried about it a bit with our speed. That’s Talladega. You can’t over-think it too much. You just have to take it and move on and go to Iowa.”