One Long Day Turns Into One Big Win For David Ragan

TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 05:  David Ragan, driver of the #34 Farm Rich Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5, 2013 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
TALLADEGA, AL – MAY 05: David Ragan, driver of the #34 Farm Rich Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5, 2013 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega, Ala., — David Ragan came up big when it counted to win Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway after rain and strong thunderstorms stopped the race at lap 125 before being restarted over three hours later.

“I’m kind of a low key guy,” Ragan said. “I don’t know what to say this is a true David versus Goliath moment here.”

“This is special to get Front Row Motorsports their first win,” added Ragan, who picked up career win No. 2.

Ragan was pushed to the checkered flag by teammate David Gilliland, who said it had been a dream since joining Front Row Motorsports to get Bob Jenkins (owner) to victory lane.

“This is about as much as I can help today,” said Gilliland. “What a great day for Front Row Motorsports as an underfunded team coming in here and being able to finish 1-2.”

“Very proud of David Ragan, he would have done the same for me,” added Gilliland. “We had a heck of a run and we were pushing and I was locked to his bumper and wasn’t going to let go.”

Nobody thought Matt Kenseth would let go of the lead after having the clearly dominant car all day—before and after the rain leading a race high 142 laps. Kenseth had to settle for seventh place after just losing the position on the final Green-White-Checkered restart.

“It was a good run and a really disappointing finish,” said Kenseth. “Carl (Edwards) just got a rocket restart there and he cleared me down the backstretch and he just got a huge run somehow.”

Kenseth said that even in second for that brief moment the chance at a win seemed to be there.

“I tried to get a run on Carl and he blocked—which he should—and we got real wide getting up there and got me too far to the top and those guys just got a huge run up the middle,” Kenseth added. “I saw David (Ragan) at the last minute, but he was going too fast and if I pulled in front of him I was just going to get wrecked.

“I just had to bite the bullet and find a hole, which there wasn’t one—and try to get the best finish we could,” Kenseth said. “A disappointing end to the day, but man we had a great car again.”

Several great cars had no chance of winning, especially after The Big One hit twice. Early in the race on lap 44 Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick were the first carnage of the day in the crash that collected 16 cars. The second big crash on lap 184 was triggered when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., squeezed to the outside of JJ Yeley running down to the backstretch making it four wide, and the melee resulted.

The second “big one” was triggered on lap 184. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman too the bulk of the hits. (Getty Images)

Kurt Busch took a wicked tumble down the backstretch and landed on top of Ryan Newman, who then spun down to the infield wall. Both drivers walked away unharmed, but Newman had a few choice words.

“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls,” said Newman. “But they can’t get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the track, and that’s pretty disappointing.”
“I wanted to make sure I get that point across,” added Newman. “Y’all can figure out who ‘they ‘is.”

Newman was upset that the race ended under the circumstances and said, “that’s just poor judgment in restarting the race.

“You got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain. That’s it, thank you.”

The crash that took out Newman and Kurt Busch also collected Yeley, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Danica Patrick, Bobby Labonte, Scott Speed, and Martin Truex, Jr.

Edwards finished third, Michael Waltrip finished fourth, and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth. Saturday’s winner Regan Smith finished sixth, Kenseth was seventh, Truex was eighth, Speed was ninth, and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-10.

The Sprint Cup points standings continue to be led by Johnson. Edwards is second (-41), and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is third (-59). Bowyer is fourth (-67), Brad Keselowski is fifth (-84), and Kasey Kahne sixth (-84). Almirola is seventh (-90), Menard is eighth (-93), Kyle Busch is ninth (-98) and Biffle is 10th (-103). The 11th and 12th spots are held by Kenseth (-104) and Harvick (-107).

Denny Hamlin exits the No. 11 on the first caution on lap 26 during the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Brian Vickers replaced Hamlin who is still healing from a compression fracture of the lower back suffered on March 24. (Getty Images)

Other news from the Aaron’s 499:
Denny Hamlin returned to the driver’s seat to begin the race, but turned the seat over to relief driver Brian Vickers on lap 26. Vickers has been filling in for Hamlin, who suffered a compression fracture in his lower back in a crash on March 24 at Auto Club Speedway in California. Vickers was caught up in the Big One on lap 44 and finished 34th.

“The exchange went great,” said Hamlin.  “Really, that was about as smooth as it’s went for us.”

“That was about the quickest that I was able to get out so everything went well,” Hamlin added. “I had a checklist in the car with thingsthat I needed to do before I got out to switch over for the next driver.  Everything really went seamless and painless.”

Joey Logano hit the pits on lap 144, but was pushed to the garage after the diagnosis was a burned plug wire and spark plug.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Aaron’s 499

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Sunday, May 05, 2013

1. (19) David Ragan, Ford, 192, $373108.

2. (31) David Gilliland, Ford, 192, $235153.

3. (1) Carl Edwards, Ford, 192, $207720.

4. (14) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 192, $155620.

5. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 192, $176426.

6. (34) Regan Smith(i), Chevrolet, 192, $146048.

7. (2) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 192, $155540.

8. (6) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 192, $154906.

9. (36) Scott Speed, Ford, 192, $107115.

10. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 192, $146226.

11. (9) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 192, $149716.

12. (27) David Stremme, Toyota, 192, $117663.

13. (21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 192, $151441.

14. (3) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 192, $131244.

15. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192, $153696.

16. (40) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 192, $112502.

17. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 192, $115355.

18. (20) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 192, $139238.

19. (26) Josh Wise(i), Ford, 192, $99405.

20. (39) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 192, $107805.

21. (38) Michael McDowell, Ford, 191, $97830.

22. (42) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 191, $97105.

23. (28) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 191, $122750.

24. (22) Casey Mears, Ford, 189, $103680.

25. (30) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 189, $122844.

26. (16) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 188, $123971.

27. (25) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 187, $137755.

28. (29) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 187, $98380.

29. (37) Terry Labonte, Ford, Accident, 185, $90180.

30. (33) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 182, $116325.

31. (43) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Accident, 182, $91330.

32. (5) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 182, $123838.

33. (23) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 182, $89555.

34. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 148, $109230.

35. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, Engine, 143, $117188.

36. (17) Greg Biffle, Ford, 141, $107155.

37. (13) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 138, $134383.

38. (32) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 128, $91085.

39. (41) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Engine, 53, $79085.

40. (24) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Accident, 47, $122021.

41. (35) David Reutimann, Toyota, Accident, 43, $71085.

42. (10) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 42, $85085.

43. (15) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Engine, 22, $63585.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  148.729 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 02 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.212 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes:  30 among 17 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Edwards 0; M. Truex Jr. 1-5; M. Kenseth 6-24; K. Harvick 25; P. Menard 26; M. Kenseth 27-28; J. Burton 29; M. Kenseth 30-47; J. McMurray 48-49; M. Kenseth 50-55; R. Newman 56-57; M. Kenseth 58-89; B. Keselowski 90; D. Ragan 91; J. Gordon 92; M. Kenseth 93-116; J. Johnson 117-120; R. Stenhouse Jr. # 121-122; C. Edwards 123-126; Kurt Busch 127; D. Ragan 128; B. Labonte 129-133; M. Kenseth 134-166; Kurt Busch 167; D. Ragan 168; S. Speed 169; A. Almirola 170; J. Johnson 171-182; M. Kenseth 183-190; C. Edwards 191; D. Ragan 192;.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Kenseth 8 times for 142 laps; J. Johnson 2 times for 16 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 5 laps; B. Labonte 1 time for 5 laps; C. Edwards 2 times for 5 laps; D. Ragan 4 times for 4 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 2 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 2 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. # 1 time for 2 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 2 laps; S. Speed 1 time for 1 lap; B. Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap; A. Almirola 1 time for 1 lap; J. Gordon 1 time for 1 lap; P. Menard 1 time for 1 lap; K. Harvick 1 time for 1 lap; J. Burton 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: J. Johnson – 383; C. Edwards – 342; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 324; C. Bowyer – 316; Brad Keselowski – 314; K. Kahne – 299; A. Almirola – 293; P. Menard – 290; Kyle Busch – 285; G. Biffle – 280; M. Kenseth – 279; K. Harvick – 276.