9 August 2011
Ragan fades as Keselowski shines
Brad Keselowski's stunning comeback from midweek injury to Sunday success was a fairy tale, but the race was a nightmare for David Ragan whose chance of a Chase slot slips away.
Brad Keselowski stole the headlines with his amazing bounceback from a high-speed testing crash on Wednesday to win the Cup race at Pocono on Sunday, but the Penske driver's success has left Roush Fenway's David Ragan with a major problem and much-diminished chance of making it through to the Chase.
Ragan won his first Cup race at the beginning of July with victory at Daytona, and was 16th in the Cup standings going into the weekend giving him a realistic chance of taking one of the two Chase wildcard slots reserved for the drivers with the most number of race wins in positions 11 through 20 after September's Richmond race.
But a bad day at Pocono saw him spin out of the race on lap 20 of the 200 lap race: "We had a good run getting into turn three," he said of the accident. "Kyle was pretty fast coming up through the field and I just passed some cars on the bottom, so I went down there and I think two or three other cars [including David Reutimann] had the same idea and I just got pinched down. I had to keep it down and just ran out of race track and got loose and spun it out.
"I was probably a little too aggressive this early in the race, but if you're not aggressive on the restarts and pass a few cars, once you get strung out after 10 laps you just can't hardly pass. Our car was driving better than it did when they dropped the green flag and I was just trying to be as aggressive as I could and ran out of race track and didn't have enough room to chase it.
"Typically, you'd have a little bit of wiggle room and I wiggled a little bit trying to stay off of him and spun out," he continued. "If I had to do it all over again, I would have probably made the same decision, but I just didn't have enough room to do what I needed to do."
Although he described it as "just a racing deal", the spin left Ragan classified in 34th place at the end of the race, which drops him down to 19th place in the Cup standings. Worse, Keselowski's win boosts the Penske driver into play in the top 20, whose two wins put him into the Chase ahead of the one-race winners Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard who themselves are now both well ahead of Ragan in the points.
"Trying to make this Chase we need as many points as we can," Ragan admitted, stressing that he wasn't giving up on making the Chase quite yet. "I've said all along we need to be in that top 12 or 13, or get a second win, so there's still a lot of racing left. There is gonna be some bad luck for some of these other guys we're racing for it.
"You don't want to give up anything and we're gonna give up some points today, so that means we've got to go and be extra aggressive these next few races."
Brad Keselowski showed that it can happen, with his determination to race at Pocono delivering results beyond his wildest hopes: "I've always wanted to win a Cup race and earn it, not fuel mileage, not Talladega, a real win," said Keselowski. "And today feels like that. And for that, I'm real proud. And I can't wait to see what the next few months bring us."
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