Ragan wins Bristol Nationwide
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, August 22nd 2009, 03:50 GMT|
David Ragan fended off team-mate Carl Edwards to claim his second Nationwide Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Starting ninth, the Roush Fenway driver systematically moved up in the order and passed Edwards for the lead on lap 199 when the pair hit traffic. From then on, he was able to remain up front until the chequered flag despite a late caution, which gave his rivals one more shot at snatching victory from him.
The 23-year-old drove faultlessly and wasn't really challenged in the final sprint of the race, taking only his second career win in one of NASCAR's national series.
The race distance was increased by four laps following the ninth caution of the day but a green-white-chequered finish didn't happen in the end as the race officially finished under caution due to a multi-car crash on the last lap.
"It was just a fun night driving such a fast race car," said Ragan. "The outside was our real strength all night. I struggled passing cars on the bottom. I raced with Carl a lot, that was a lot of fun racing with a team-mate, and I was able to pin him behind a lapped car.
"I don't think I was going to be able to pass him because he was riding that middle groove and I just couldn't get around him."
Edwards' second place finish allowed him to profit on a bad day for points leader Kyle Busch, who was classified 28th after an incident on lap 53 with rookie Chase Austin while leading the race. Austin had a tyre down and was trying to drive slowly to the apron out of Turn 4, while Busch was completing a pass on Harvick for the lead at the same spot.
The pair made contact, sending Busch against the wall and then to the garage with massive damage to the front end of his car.
"We're unfortunate that that happened," said Busch. "I've made mistakes too but I guess [Chase Austin's] spotter didn't see the leaders coming or whatever happened.
"He had a flat tyre or whatever. It's a rookie thing. You live and you learn, it's his first time here [at Bristol] or whatever, but he took out a great race car today."
Also involved in an early incident was pole-sitter Brad Keselowski, who got into Penske's Justin Allgaier while battling for the lead as soon as lap 39, three laps after he had been overtaken by the young rookie.
While running nearly side-by-side, Keselowski ran wide at the exit of Turn 4, clipping the left rear corner of Allgaier's Dodge, which spun out of control making contact with the wall.
"It was 100 per cent my fault," said an apologetic Keselowski after finishing third, recovering from a lengthy stop for damage to the right front of his car caused by the incident.
"I guess I was racing a little too hard, slid up and just barely clipped him, but with where the bumpers are in these cars I cut his tyre down. I feel terrible about it, he had a great car, probably could have won the race and I kind of ruined his race. I've got to apologize to Justin and his team for that."
Harvick seemed to have the car to beat for the second time this year at Bristol, as he emerged up front after the incidents involving Keselowski and Busch. However, the Roush Fenway contingent dashed his hopes in the end, while Keselowski passed him for third on the final restart.
Matt Kenseth rounded out a great night for his team with fifth, recovering well from an early spin, which brought the caution flags out for the first time during the night.
The battle for the championship tightened up slightly due to Busch's misfortunes, but he still has a 248-point cushion over Edwards, while Keselowski ranks third - only 55 off from the former Nationwide Series champion.
Pos Driver Make Laps 1. David Ragan Ford 254 2. Carl Edwards Ford 254 3. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 254 4. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 254 5. Matt Kenseth Ford 254 6. Jason Leffler Toyota 254 7. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 254 8. Michael Annett Toyota 254 9. Paul Menard Ford 254 10. Michael McDowell Dodge 254 11. David Reutimann Toyota 254 12. Matt Carter Ford 254 13. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 254 14. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 253 15. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 253 16. Jason Keller Ford 253 17. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 253 18. Benny Gordon Ford 252 19. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 252 20. Sean Murphy Dodge 252 21. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 251 22. Ken Butler III Chevrolet 251 23. Tony Raines Chevrolet 250 24. Trevor Bayne Toyota 250 25. Eric McClure Ford 249 26. Derrike Cope Dodge 236 27. Justin Allgaier Dodge 226 28. Kyle Busch Toyota 195 29. Brad Coleman Toyota 177 30. Brian Scott Toyota 162 31. Peyton Sellers Chevrolet 161 32. Danny O'Quinn Jr Chevrolet 137 33. John Wes Townley Ford 133 34. Brad Teague Chevrolet 79 35. Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 52 36. Chase Austin Chevrolet 51 37. Kasey Kahne Toyota 30 38. Mark Green Chevrolet 25 39. Coleman Pressley Toyota 23 40. Kevin Lepage Dodge 13 41. Casey Atwood Chevrolet 12 42. Terry Cook Chevrolet 3 43. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 2