Ragan Delivers Victory In Coke 400 At Daytona
David Ragan, with help from drafting pal and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.
The victory was the first of the season for Ragan. First of his career, even. It came in his 163rd start. It came at the place where he whiffed on a chance to win last February in the 500 when he was penalized for changing lanes on a late restart.
“It was a tough one in February and coming back here we knew that we’d have a shot to win,” Ragan said. “I think there are 30 guys that can win this race. We felt good all weekend walking around. We went through practice and felt good about our race car, qualified great, the team did a nice job with our car. When we qualified, that’s probably the first time I really felt like we’ve got a car that’s fast enough that we can win this thing if we make the right decisions throughout the race, so we made a pact with our teammate Matt Kenseth that we were gonna work together through thick or thin.”
Kenseth was second Saturday.
“We had really fast cars together,” Kenseth said. ”It’s almost like you’re a team. It’s almost like those two cars are one car, so, in a way, I feel like we won. That was good, but our cars were really fast together. We got up front early and led.”
Joey Logano was third and Kasey Kahne, who was pushing Logano was fourth.
Kyle Busch finished fifth and Jeff Gordon was sixth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger.
The race featured 58 leaders among 25 drivers and it featured the two-by-two drafting format which is now pro forma at restrictor plate tracks.
The final round of pit stops began with about 30 laps to go. When pitting cycled through 10 laps later, the
stage was set a wild finish which took two green/white/checkered restarts to conclude.
The tandem of Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard held the lead until there were seven laps left.
At that point, Kenseth/Ragan took over.
With three to go, Harvick/Menard took the lead back. Just as they did, a large pack of drivers right behind closed up, Jeff Gordon got loose, shot down the track and out came a yellow to set up the first green/white/checkered restart.
Pitting because of damage during that wreck were Jimmie Johnson, Gordon and Kyle Busch.
Leading the pack to the green flag was Ryan Newman. He was followed by Denny Hamlin, Kenseth and Ragan.
Just atter the restart, a big wreck occurred when Logano got into the left rear of Mark Martin. Among those caught up were Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Casey Mears, David Reutimann and Regan Smith.
That is, a bunch of drivers who had shots to win.
Ragan had the lead for the second green/white/checkered restart. Behind him were Newman and Kenseth.
A couple of tandems took shots at Ragan on the restart lap but none could hold the lead. On the final lap, Ragan and Kenseth stayed planted on the bottom of the track and got to the finish line as another series of wrecks broke out behind them.
February’s warm story turned cold five laps in. Trevor Bayne, the rookie winner of the 500, was being pushed by Brad Keselowski when his Wood Brothers Racing Ford was spun into the wall in Turn 1.
Bayne had qualified second fastest but had trouble hooking up with a drafting partner after the green flag.
“At the beginning of the race we didn’t really have a plan of who we were gonna work with,” Bayne said. “The
other Ford cars had teammates already and we were gonna work on whoever we found and we worked with the 33 car (Clint Bowyer) at first and we were really fast. We only got a couple laps to prove that, but he dropped off to find the 31 (Jeff Burton), which we knew he was gonna do, and as I was kind of falling through the field, we found the 2 car (Keselowski).
I wanted to be a pusher because I know that these things can happen. He got to us and was pushing us down the frontstretch. I was still kind of lifting a little bit, letting him get to my bumper, and then I got back to the gas wide-open. I don’t know if I turned down more getting in or if he kind of came up across our bumper, but, either way, our bumpers caught wrong and it sent us spinning.”
The driver who started next to Bayne on the front row, polesitter Martin led the first 15 laps. Pushing him was Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Gordon.
The second yellow came out when points leader Carl Edwards was pushed too hard by his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Greg Biffle. Edwards had just led a lap and was running third.
(This story will be updated shortly)One Comment