News & Media

Ragan backs up DIS win with rally at Kentucky

July 11, 2011, David Caraviello,

SPARTA, Ky. -- Pit strategy and a little luck gives Ragan top-10 and much needed points

It wasn't nearly as spectacular as his finish the week before at Daytona International Speedway, where he earned his first victory in NASCAR's premier series and got to clutch a trophy amid booming fireworks and fluttering confetti. But to David Ragan, the gut-check result he managed Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway loomed almost as important.

Ragan used pit strategy to regroup from an early spin that cost him plenty of track position, and rallied to finish eighth in the inaugural Sprint Cup event on the 1.5-mile track. The Roush Fenway driver not only scored back-to-back top-10s for only the second time this season, he kept the momentum going from his breakthrough performance in central Florida seven days earlier.

"That's a Chase-caliber race. We didn't have the best car. We very easily could have finished 15th or 20th, but we managed to stay positive and come home with a top-10."


"It was just as important to back up last week as it was to win last week," Ragan said. "If we would have come here and had a DNF or a blown engine or something, that would have really taken the wind out of our sails. But to come back, I think it shows everybody that we're for real, we've got a strong team behind us, good equipment, and we're going to be a threat to be reckoned with."

Last weekend's victory put Ragan in position for a potential wild-card berth to the Chase, something he has to finish at least 20th in points to obtain. Saturday's result helped him toward that goal, improving him two positions in the standings to 15th.

"It was huge," Ragan's crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer, said of the No. 6 team's result at Kentucky. "One thing this team has done is run really well one week, and then had one or two bad weeks in a row after that. To have a couple of good ones in a row -- I think that moved us up [two] spots in points, and that's something we haven't had in a while."

Things didn't appear nearly that optimistic for Ragan and Blickensderfer early in the race, when the No. 6 car ran over fluid on the track and spun. Ragan fell back to 20th position in a race that featured long green-flag runs, and at a facility were drivers in traffic had difficulty making up ground all night. Ragan pitted by himself, giving the No. 6 car enough fuel to stay out on a green-flag cycle when many of the leaders pitted later. He was helped when Jamie McMurray's car blew an engine and trapped a number of cars a lap down, helping Ragan to climb back into the top 10. He was able to stay there for the remainder of the event.

"Sometimes you've got to be a little lucky, but some things fell our way," Ragan said. "And we had a good car at the end, so it was a good night."

The good fortune was welcome for a team that's often found itself on the opposite end of it.

"A year ago we would have finished 20th, maybe even six months ago we would have finished 20th," Blickensderfer said. "But we had a car that could run, and when [Ragan] got loose that one time and lost all that track position, when it goes green for that long, it's hard to make it back. I'm glad we were able to overcome that. Some of the guys in front of us, we've been faster all year, but they've gotten those breaks. It was nice to be on the other side of that."

And it bolstered hopes of better things to come.

"That's a Chase-caliber race," Ragan said. "We didn't have the best car. We very easily could have finished 15th or 20th, but we managed to stay positive and come home with a top-10."