News & Media


Ragan scores first career pole with top speed at Texas

April 08, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- David Ragan finally fulfilled the potential he showed in practice.

Ragan blistered Texas Motor Speedway with a lap at 189.820 mph (28.448 seconds) Friday to win the first Coors Light Pole award of his career.

Texas

Race Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.C. Edwards 188.521 28.644
3.C. Bowyer 188.232 28.688
4.M. Kenseth 188.199 28.693
5.R. Smith 187.950 28.731

Fastest during Thursday's Sprint Cup practice for Saturday's Samsung Mobile 500 at the 1.5-mile track, Ragan was last to qualify among drivers already locked into the field for Saturday's race.

Ragan knocked Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards (188.521 mph) off the provisional pole. The 15th driver to make a qualifying run, Edwards posted an exceptional lap that stood up until Ragan made his run.

Ragan has been fast in practice this season but, until Friday, had not converted that speed into a front-row starting position. His No. 6 Ford was one of the fastest cars during practice in Las Vegas, but Ragan spun out during his qualifying run and started at the rear of the field.

"First thing, I wasn't backwards coming off of Turn 2 the way I was in Vegas, so that helped," Ragan said. "When you're fast in practice -- and we've qualified in the top five, top 10 I think two or three times this year (fifth at Bristol and sixth at Fontana) -- and when you do that, eventually you're going to win a pole.

"And if you finish second, fifth and eighth, eventually you'll win a race. I think that, ultimately, that's our main goal. Our cars are just faster, and it's just so much easier. I think we're all qualifying a lot better because our cars are faster, they're easier to drive and you don't have to reinvent the wheel on qualifying days."

Clint Bowyer (188.232) earned the third starting spot for the first night Cup race at Texas. Matt Kenseth (188.199) will start fourth, as Roush drivers claimed three of the top four positions.

Even though they qualified 1-2, Ragan and Edwards used different setups.

"They approached it different than we did, I think," Edwards said. "His car was good. I watched his lap and the line he drove. It looked like his car did exactly what he wanted it to do, especially through Turns 1 and 2. He was screaming fast. I don't know exactly what he did differently, but I didn't expect that lap time.

"We were so close. That is cool for David, though. If we had to be second to anyone in qualifying, David would be the guy. Those guys have been working really hard."

Regan Smith will start fifth. With 102 starts in the Cup Series when he takes the green flag, Smith will inherit from Ragan the most starts without a pole of any full-time active driver.

Leavine Fenton Racing will make its series debut as David Starr put the new team's No. 95 Ford in the field in 33rd position. Starr, a 14-year veteran of the Truck Series with limited Nationwide experience, will be making his Cup debut, as well.

"Words can't describe this," Starr said in a team release. "Ever since I was 2 or 3 years old I wanted to do what we accomplished [Friday]. I can't put it into words what this means to me. It means the world to me. It's hard to talk about it without getting emotional. We built this team in January."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• David Ragan scored his first Cup pole in his 152nd start.
• David Ragan joins Martin Truex Jr. as only the second driver to get his first Cup pole at Texas.
• David Ragan is the sixth different pole winner in 2011.
• David Ragan is the 10th driver to win a Cup pole while driving for Roush Fenway Racing; the team has 72 career poles, four in 2011.
• It is the first Cup pole at Texas for Roush Fenway; previous best start was second (three times).
• Twenty-three drivers have posted their first Cup win from the pole.
• Carl Edwards matched his best Texas start set in this race in 2008; he led 123 laps and got his second of three Texas wins.
• It is the first time any team swept the front row at Texas and ninth overall for Roush Fenway, including the team's second this season (Bristol).
• Clint Bowyer (third) scored his best start of the season.
• Matt Kenseth (fourth) posted his best Texas start in the past four races.
• Regan Smith (fifth) scored his best Texas start in his seventh start; he has track-best starts in all seven races this season.
• Travis Kvapil is the only driver who failed to qualify.

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel chats with pole winner Ragan