26 April 2009
Ragan claims first Nationwide win at Talladega
For David Ragan, a first victory in one of NASCAR's top three touring series took a long time coming - 196 races combined - and, when it came, there was still a bitter-sweet aspect to it.
In a wild scramble at the finish, Ragan beat polesitter Ryan Newman to the stripe to win the Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway, but the victory came at the expense of team-mate Matt Kenseth, who barrel-rolled and slid on the roof of his #16 Ford after contact from Ragan's #6 Roush Fenway entry sent him out of control on lap 105.
In a green-white-chequered finish that took the race three laps past its scheduled distance of 117 laps, Newman led Dale Earnhardt Jr past the white flag, but contact between them as they came off turn four gave Ragan his opportunity, and a push from third-place finisher Joey Logano sealed the win.
“I was kind of content with a top five,” admitted Ragan, who restarted fourth for the final two laps, “No-one seemed to be able to really run on the outside and really push hard, so I've got to give credit to Joey Logano. He helped me out - an old Legends Car buddy.
“I just kind of saw beating and banging there with first and second and said 'what the heck? Let's jump to the outside and see what we can make of it'.”
Ragan and Newman rubbed fenders right before the finish line, before the #6 Ford crossed the stripe 0.030 seconds ahead of Newman's #33 Chevrolet.
“I knew Junior was coming,” Newman said of the final half-mile, “I blocked, and he got me sideways, but I really didn't expect the #6 to come that fast. I guess he had someone pushing him.”
Tony Raines ran fourth to post his best Nationwide finish since 2005, while Earnhardt came home fifth, ahead of Jason Leffler, Jason Keller, rookie Scott Lagasse Jr - earning a career-best finish - Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
Busch was involved in the lap 115 wreck that caused the final caution and forced the race to overtime, as contact from his #18 Toyota turned Justin Allgaier's Dodge into the Chevrolet of Bobby Gerhart.
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