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David Ragan Earns The Pole At The Brickyard

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2011

David Ragan won the pole for the Brickyard 400 on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Indianapolis – David Ragan’s midseason charge picked up more steam on Saturday as the Roush Fenway Racing driver won the pole for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

Ragan’s fast lap in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford was at 182.994 mph. The pole is the second of the season for Ragan as he was top qualifier at Texas Motor Speedway in the spring.

“It’ll be cool to lead the pack tomorrow,” Ragan said. People will notice our bright blue car a little easier up front than back in the middle of the pack, but I knew we had a shot at the pole when we unloaded in qualifying trim on Friday. The car was fast. We spent a little extra time today in race trim because I didn’t think we were that great and didn’t really know what to expect for qualifying today.

“Drew (Blickensderger, his crew chief) made a few small adjustments and I just tried to hit my marks and not do anything crazy. I knew we had a shot at a top five or top 10 run for sure, so I just wanted to be a little conservative. I hit my marks and everything did what it needed to do and we wound up on top. It’s an honor to be here and to be the fastest guy at Indy.”

The pole for Ragan comes three races after he won the first Cup race of his career at Daytona. It appears for now that the questions about Ragan’s ability to compete at the Cup level are becoming a thing of the past.

Ragan says there’s secret as to why fortunes have improved around he and his team.

“We have better race cars and Drew Blickensderfer and I knew how to work on them to get them to where they were comfortable,” he said. “It’s the same thing we had at the end of ’07 and ’08.  I wasn’t mature enough and made too many mistakes my first couple of years when I was 19 and 20 years old that kept us from winning races, and then I was ready to win some races in ’09 and ’10 and our cars weren’t as good, our engines weren’t as good and I was forced to overdrive.  I made more mistakes.  We went through a couple crew chief changes and then finally Drew and I were together at the end of last year and we see things in the same direction.  All the Roush Fenway cars have the new FR9 engine.  We’ve got better race cars and it’s just a world of difference.”

A victory by Ragan on Sunday would give Jack Roush his first victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a team owner.

Starting next to Ragan on the front row will be Kasey Kahne. Kahne recored a lap at 192.927 seconds in his Red Bull Racing Toyota.

Jimmie Johnson’s bid to win a fourth Brickyard 400 championship got off to a good start as he was third fastest in qualifying with a lap of 182.234 mph.

Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team are attempting to win their sixth straight series championship. A victory in the Brickyard, history says, could go a long way toward winning the season championship.

Johnson said qualifying is big at Indy because, he said, IMS is the hardest track on the schedule to makes passes.

“There isn’t much  banking,” he said. “Track position is real, real important.”

Brad Keselowski of Penske Racing was fourth fastest with a lap at 182.671 mph.

Behind him was his teammate, Kurt Busch, who has never finished on the podium at the Brickyard. Busch’s fast lap came at 182.671 mph in his Penske Racing Dodge.

Rounding out the top 10 were A.J. Allmendinger of Richard Petty Racing, Juan Pablo Montoya of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports, Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing and Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2011
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