David Ragan atones for late race mistake that handed the Daytona 500 to rookie Trevor Bayne.
Article first published as David Ragan Wins Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on Technorati.
David Ragan was out front on the last restart, exactly where he was in February for the Daytona 500. He screwed that one up with a penalty and finished seventh. Not to be denied, the young driver was rock steady and two laps later absolved himself of the spring snafu.
Ah, the sweet taste of redemption for the driver of the Jack Roush owned, UPS Ford. It was Ragan’s first win in his fifth season of Sprint Cup.
“It’s a good feeling to come back here — we got one back at Daytona,” said Ragan, 25, in post race interviews. “It would have been tough to lose another one. I thought about that, actually, under that last caution [before the final restart]. I said, ‘Man, if we don’t win this thing, I’m not going to talk to anyone afterward.’
“We were able to win, and that does ease the pain from February. … This is a great race. It does ease the pain, and so we’ll think about this one a lot more than we’ll think about the Daytona 500.”
The race itself seemed to have two distinctly different personalities. The first 157 laps had a couple of minor skirmishes resulting in early cautions. Daytona 500 Winner, Trevor Bayne, was knocked out on lap five ending his shot at the Daytona sweep. Points leader Carl Edwards got the short end of an bump from Greg Biffleon lap 23. With heavy damage to the 99 car, Edwards fought to stay in the race. At one point he got very sick in the race car overcome by exhaust fumes. He would finish in 37th, 26 laps off the pace.
And then the second part that was more demolition derby than “Gentlemen, start your engines.” Just three laps from the end on lap 157, Jeff Gordon was spun around by slight contact from Kasey Kahne. Gordon made a spectacular save and kept the #24 Chevy off the Daytona wall.
On lap 162 the first green-white-checkered finish took off with Ryan Newman out front. Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne second through sixth.
Barely up in turn two the “Big One” unfolded as the field bunched up and race cars turned into pinballs. Joey Logano got into Mark Martin and took a dozen cars with them.
On lap 168, Ragan lead the field on the second G-W-C restart with Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya in positions two through ten.
Ragan stayed out front and would not be denied as the field was crashing behind him. Teammate Matt Kenseth finishes second and Joey Logano took third.
Carl Edwards dropped to second in points behind new leader Kevin Harvick.