Ragan Makes Thrilling Pass at End to Nip Newman
David Ragan has been looking for a NASCAR victory for five years. Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, he finally found one at the last possible moment.
Ragan managed to work his way through heavy traffic coming out of Turn 4 and passed Ryan Newman just before the finish line to win the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It was Ragan’s first victory in 196 NASCAR starts, including the Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series.
Joey Logano, who helped pushed Ragan to the victory, finished third. Tony Raines was fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in fifth.
Newman led coming out of Turn 4, with Earnhardt hard on his bumper. As the pack roared through the trioval and headed for the finish line, Earnhardt attempted to pass Newman on the high side. Newman moved up the track to block Earnhardt, and then dipped back down to cut off a hard-charging Raines.
In the midst of all the commotion, a hole opened up for Ragan, and he zipped through it to edge Newman by 0.030 seconds.
“The fans certainly get their money’s worth as far as seeing excitement to the last turn of the last lap,” said Jack Roush, owner of Ragan’s No. 6 Ford.
As Ragan came off that final turn, he didn’t think he had much of a chance to win, even after he realized he was getting a strong push from Logano.
“I thought, ‘Hey, that’s great. We’re going to finish second or third,’ ” Ragan said. “All of a sudden (Newman) pulled back down the track. I saw the gap open, and all I could see was the start-finish line.
Newman said the wild ending was an appropriate way for Ragan to earn his first career NASCAR victory.
“He won it in fashion. It wasn’t given to him,” Newman said. “He won it by 6 feet at Talladega. He was in the right position at the right time. He earned it. That’s what you want. You want your first win to be in style.
“I really didn’t expect him to have that kind of run. It was a good finish for us, but not what we wanted. It was a lot of fun. It was good racing. I just fell about 6 feet short.”
The frenetic finish capped an exciting race that saw the lead swap hands 34 times among 15 drivers.
“That was wild. It was a lot of fun,” Logano said. “The last 20 laps were out of control. I couldn’t believe it. That was definitely the biggest pack I’ve ever been involved in. It was really exciting.”
It was an exciting day for Ragan as well, in more ways than one.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Ragan said. “It was a lot of fun, a lot of emotion. Hopefully there will be some more of these things to come. We want to make this a habit.”
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.
Tickets are still available to Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
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