Ragan is the little engine that could.
David Ragan proved that sometimes you don’t have to be the biggest or most funded NASCAR team in the garage. Last weekend Ragan and team David Gilliland provided Front Row Motorsports their first victory and a 1-2 finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Rain, darkness, and of course wrecks, all contributed to putting Ragan in a spot to get the victory on a last lap pass of Carl Edwards.
With eight laps to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried squeezing to the outside of J.J. Yeley, a move that would collect 11 cars, including Kurt Busch, whose car went airborne landing on the hood of Ryan Newman. Also involved were contenders Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick, and Jeff Gordon. Matt Kenseth had just taken over the lead from Jimmie Johnson as the caution flew. Kenseth had been the premier car all day long again, leading 142 of the 192 laps.
NASCAR made the call to only allow one green/white/checkered restart due to the impending darkness, as the race passed its 7 hour mark since the green flag. A 3:36 minute rain delay left the final 63 laps in question for a good part of the day.
On the restart, Ragan and Gilliland would start 10th and 11th. By the time the white flag flew, the teammates were locked together and making a run to the front. Going into turn two, they started their move. Carl Edwards looked like he might win the race, but was trying to block and keep everyone behind him, when Ragan slipped by him and sped away to his second career Sprint Cup Win, the other, also coming on a restrictor plate track in 2011 in Daytona.
Front Row Motorsports Team owner Bob Jenkins has 406 starts, with just two previous top 5 finishes. Last Sunday, he added two more and his first win.
Denny Hamlin returned to the track and raced until the first caution, giving way to Brian Vickers to run the remainder of the race. Unfortunately, Vickers was part of a 16 lap crash shortly after, triggered when Kyle Busch got into the back of Kasey Kahne, sending him into the wall and collecting numerous cars behind him. The move did help Hamlin collect 10 driver points.
News and Notes
Matt Kenseth received a lighter sentence in his appeal, having his win restored and points penalty reduced to just 12 points instead of 50. A huge win for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kurt Busch is testing an Indy Car at Indianapolis this week. His goal is not to run this years Indy 500, but it is an option for next year.
Phoenix Racing, still looking for a sponsor, plans to exit the series after the Brickyard race in August.
Jeff Gordon will make his 700th consecutive start this Saturday night at Darlington.
Too tough to tame is how it is classified. That being said, experience seems to matter at this track. Jeff Gordon has finished over half of his races in the top five here, including seven wins. Denny Hamlin, who will return to full time driving this week, usually runs this track strong…he may be a bit off, just jumping into the car again this week. I like Kasey Kahne, who has won the pole four times in 10 starts, but has only managed four top 10s at Darlington. Aric Almirola seems to be everyone’s sleeper this week, but not so far, he has only one start at “the Lady in Black” and finished 19th. His run for five straight top 10s ends this week.