Ragan Races to Talladega Win
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on May 5, 2013 | 8:25 P.M. EST
Ragan celebrates his second career Sprint Cup Series win in 228 races. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
TALLADEGA, Ala. - David Ragan made a last lap move in a green-white-checkered finish to win Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The upset win by the Front Row Motorsports driver capped a long and crash-filled race that was delayed by three hours and 36 minutes for rain.
Ragan hooked up with teammate David Gilliland on the final two-lap overtime restart and went on to claim his second career Sprint Cup Series victory.
"I've got to thank my teammates," Ragan said. "If it wasn't for that final push from David Gilliland, I don't know what to say. They're not all this easy, but this is special to get Front Row Motorsports their first win. It feels like I've never been here before."
Ragan, who scored his other Cup win while a member of Roush Fenway Racing, nearly won the 2011 Daytona 500 but was penalized by NASCAR for changing lanes before a restart.
Brad Keselowski accused Ragan of making a similar move and not lining up in the proper position before the final two-lap dash to the finish line on Sunday, but NASCAR officials confirmed nothing was afoul of the rules. (Read More)
"The No. 2 car (Keselowski) was not in the proper lane for the final restart,” said a NASCAR statement. “So NASCAR had the No. 2 car move into the proper lane - the No. 34 car was lined up properly all along."
"Brad was just trying to snooker us and trying to get the preferred lane and eventually he decided that he should do the right thing and he restarted ninth and I restarted 10th, so there's no controversy," Ragan said.
The extra laps were necessitated by a violent multi-car crash that saw Kurt Busch roll end over end before landing on top of Ryan Newman’s car. The melee was triggered when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to make a move around JJ Yeley but the duo touched to set off the accident.
"They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls," Newman said. "But they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing. I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is.
“That's no way to end a race. That's just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain. That's it, thank you."
Carl Edwards, Michael Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.
Edwards, who started from the pole, had the lead when the red flag for rain flew after lap 122. He was not able to maintain the top spot when racing resumed although was in the mix with Kenseth for victory until the Front Row duo sped by.
“That was crazy,” said Edwards. “I blocked everybody I could. I was doing everything I could. I blocked Matt and I thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got it.’ And then I saw Jimmie coming and I blocked him and I thought, ‘Who is that back there?’ It was this Ford freight train coming and I just couldn’t stay in front of them.”
Regan Smith, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Scott Speed and Aric Almirola completed the first ten finishers.
“It was a good run and a really disappointing finish,” said Kenseth, who seemed the have the most dominating car of the race, leading a race-high 142 laps.
“That was cool to see the underdogs go up through there and grab one. Carl got a rocket restart and cleared me down the backstretch.”
Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne got together on lap 42 to start the day’s first big accident, which included 16 cars before it was over.
“I’m alright and I caused it,” said Busch. “I just hate that I caused a hell of a melee for everybody.” (Read More)
Denny Hamlin made his return to the Sprint Cup Series and started the race in the FedEx Toyota. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who is still recovering from a back injury suffered in a March Fontana crash, gave way to relief driver Brian Vickers on the race’s first caution flag at lap 18. (Read More)
But Vickers was involved in the crash that was sparked by Busch and Kahne’s contact and wound up finishing 34th. Hamlin thus dropped to 31st place in the standings.
Johnson's fifth-place finish allowed him to maintain his points lead, which is 41 over Edwards. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 17th, is third.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Darlington Raceway for next Saturday night’s Bojangles Southern 500.