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David Ragan! Redemption, and relief....and now it's up to UPS to make the next call

  David Ragan finally makes it to victory lane, and he can now wipe that Daytona 500 out of mind (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   David Ragan, a second-generation good ol' boy from Unadilla, Ga.,  got a shot at redemption for that Daytona 500 restart snafu, and he was ready, getting a good push from teammate Matt Kenseth to win the Coke Zero 400, his first-ever Sprint Cup tour victory.

   The last 30 laps of Saturday night's race were hot and heavy, after two hours of rather laid-back racing. Ragan wound up the leader for the second green-white-checkered overtime sprint, with Kenseth right behind him at the restart. Kenseth pushed Ragan the rest of the way, but Joey Logano and several others were right there the final lap, waiting for any opening, which never really materialized.
    For Ragan, who is only 25, the win was a huge relief. His three teammates at Jack Roush's have been winners, but not Ragan. And there have been questions about how much support sponsor UPS might still have for Ragan, given the long dry spell, and the corporate rivalry with FedEx and Denny Hamlin. "Certainly we're hopeful that UPS will remain with us, but right now we're in negotiation and we have no assurance of that," Roush said. "But to finally have David in the winner's circle is big for us."
   On top of that, Ragan's Daytona snafu has hung over him these past four months: leading on a late restart, with victory apparently within grasp, Ragan drew a NASCAR penalty for changing lanes too soon, and Trevor Bayne wound up the 500 winner.
   So this win was both redemption and relief.
   "Everybody kept talking about it, and I tried just to zero it out," Ragan said of the February situation. "It was a tough one in February.
   "Now we've delivered a win for UPS, how about that! Thank Matt Kenseth for helping me.
   "I did not have to be reminded of staying in my lane (on the restart). Everyone was so tense, and I tried to lighten it up."


  It was a rough night at Daytona....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   And both Kenseth and Logano went to victory lane to congratulate Ragan. "I grew up racing with David, since we were nine years old, so it's neat to see him win here," Logano said.
    With 40 miles to go Ryan Newman, paired with Hamlin, had the lead, after the final round of pit stops, all under green. And Ragan and Kenseth were stuck back in the pack, behind Kyle Busch, Logano, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.
    But the two-car drafts, which had again dominated the night, turned into one huge pack, and with four laps to go Jeff Gordon got spun, setting up the first green-white-checkered.  
    Then a 15-car crash on the restart set up a second green-white-checkered, with Ragan on the point. Logano, with a push from Kasey Kahne, made a bid to hang with Ragan and Kenseth; Logano couldn't make anything stick, but he kept Kenseth from making a move on Ragan.
   Then, as the lead pack was in the third turn, Marcos Ambrose got turned sideway, in part of a big crash. But no yellow was thrown. Then as the leaders came out of turn four, another crash occurred, again no yellow thrown until the leaders reached the checkered flag.
     "We didn't give it to him. He was in the right place," Kenseth said. "In a way, our two cars were like one, so I feel like I won too. I feel like I'm the second-luckiest guy here.
   "We worked together all night, and it was cool that the plan worked for us.
   "The first two speedway races this year for us were terrible, so I'm glad to get out of here without being in a wreck."
   Could Kenseth have made a move on Ragan?
   "Joey Logano was too close," Kenseth said. "If I hadn't had him to the outside, I might have been able to make a move. I had Kevin Harvick right behind me to push.
   "If David and I had had a 20-length lead coming off four, I would have made a single-car move on him."
    Logano, who won Friday night's Nationwide race, in a wild, crash-marred finish, had a shot at making it two straight Saturday: "We went three-wide for the lead, and I yelled 'We got 'em.' But then we got down there and couldn't fill the hole.
   "Our only hope was those two guys would try to pass each other at the finish line, but I figured they wouldn't, because they're teammates."
   The big crash that gave Ragan the big break occurred when Mark Martin cut down on Logano on the restart.
   "The accident I was in, I knew it was going to get crazy," Martin said. "I thought Logano and I were going to hook up; neither of us had a partner, and I was trying to get right in front of him."
   "Maybe I could have backed off, or maybe Mark could have stay up, but it was really just racing, it could have gone either way," Logano said. "I had no partner, so I was just going to try to go through that hole."
   Until the final round of pit stops it appeared that Harvick and Menard were in command. But Newman and Hamlin came out of that cycle of stops with the lead, and Harvick couldn't really get back in the action.
   "It's such a crap shoot at the end," Harvick said.



David Ragan: atop Drew Blickensderfer's Ford in victory lane (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



yea well their probably

yea well their probably looking for a chevy team to sponsor so they will have the security of nascar to keep them competitive.

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