Redemption in Daytona: David Ragan Scores First Career Win in Coke Zero 400

It was fourth of July weekend in Daytona Beach and there were more than just fireworks in the sky. Starting on the pole for the 50th time in his career was Hendrick Motorsports’ Mark Martin who did his part in putting HMS on all three restrictor plate poles this season.

[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”254″][/media-credit]In following the previous plate races the Coke Zero 400 was about finding your drafting partner and it didn’t mean a teammate. Pairings such as David Gilliland and Tony Stewart became friends while the duo of Kurt Busch and Regan Smith looked to continue the success they experienced at Daytona in February.

Unlike February, Trevor Bayne would not be the driver going to victory lane. The No. 21 Ford brought out the first caution on lap six after he got turned by Brad Keselowski in turn one. The first of many incidents of bumpdrafting gone bad.

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After the restart Martin, who had led every lap to that point, lost the lead to his teammate and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. Working with Jimmie Johnson as they did in Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. was happily pushed to the front before losing the lead to Kurt Busch.

Point leader Carl Edwards wouldn’t get to challenge Busch. As he and teammate Greg Biffle attempted to drive high around Busch and Smith the No. 99 got turned into the inside wall by Biffle on lap 24. Damage to the rear decklid of Edwards would take him out of contention.

Edwards misfortune became teammate David Ragan’s fortune as he was pushed to the lead by teammate Matt Kenseth after the restart. From there many other drivers, such as Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr., took their shot at the lead as the race ran green until lap 49.

Dave Blaney would bring out the third caution of the night in a single car accident. Blaney hit the wall hard on the right side of his No. 36 machine. It was also during this stage of the race that a story was developing in the Edwards pit. After his wreck there were rumors that Edwards had thrown up inside the car and that there could also be carbon monoxide factors.

Edwards would stay in the car, as the team worked to get him cooled off and the car vented. Eventually they went behind the wall before returning later in the event.

Once the race went back green it went through it’s longest green flag run. Paul Menard and Kevin Harvick made their way to the front for a few laps. Next came Tony Stewart, a three-time Daytona winner, making his appearance on lap 70.

Another unusual pairing, Joe Nemechek and Travis Kvapil, not only caught attention but drove to the lead for a few circuits and ran amongst the leaders during a late stage in the race. When Kyle Busch was pushed to the lead by teammate Joey Logano he became the 17th leader during the 31st lead change.

Lap 92 brought the first round of green flag pit stops during which Jeff Burton and teammate Clint Bowyer went to the front. The two had been running in the back to avoid trouble but made sure each led a lap for the bonus points.

The next pairing to drive to the lead were the two drivers that lost their drafting partners in earlier wrecks. Brad Keselowski and Greg Biffle took the lead before being passed by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman and soon there was a new track record for leaders with 25, besting the previous of 22 in the Daytona 500.

The final round of pit stops took place with 30 laps to go. Again they occurred under green but the drama was just around the corner. On lap 159 Jeff Gordon spun in turn four but avoided taking the rest of the field with him. It happened while racing three wide but Gordon still rebounded for a sixth place finished.

On the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish the big one broke out on the backstretch. Martin, Truex Jr., Bowyer, Mears, Nemechek, Kvapil, Smith, Busch, Stewart, Reutimann, Vickers, Cassill, Kahne, Logano and Gilliland all got a piece of it.

It set up a second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish that placed David Ragan in the lead. Looking for redemption for his mistake in the Daytona 500 on the green-white-checkered finish, Ragan stayed in line and was pushed by Matt Kenseth toward his first career win.

As he was coming to the checkered flag more wrecks broke out behind him. First in turns three and four and then coming toward the finish line. This time it involved Reutimann, McMurray, Ambrose, Hamlin, Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Kvapil, Newman, Montoya, Johnson, Cassill, Vickers, Smith and Earnhardt Jr.

Out in front though was David Ragan beating Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch. It was his first career win in 163 Sprint Cup Series starts. In the points, Kevin Harvick is now on top over Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.

 

Unofficial Race Results
Coke Zero 400, Daytona International Speedway
http://www.speedwaymedia.com/Cup/race.php?race=17
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Pos. No. Driver Make Points
=========================================
1 5 6 David Ragan Ford 47
2 16 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 43
3 37 20 Joey Logano Toyota 41
4 13 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 41
5 38 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 40
6 4 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 39
7 31 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 38
8 10 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 37
9 30 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 36
10 9 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 34
11 19 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 34
12 20 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 32
13 36 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 32
14 25 22 Kurt Busch Dodge 31
15 26 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 30
16 39 34 David Gilliland Ford 28
17 15 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 27
18 17 16 Greg Biffle Ford 27
19 6 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 26
20 8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 24
21 12 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 24
22 18 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 23
23 11 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 23
24 28 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 21
25 23 0 David Reutimann Toyota 19
26 21 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 0
27 7 71 Andy Lally * Ford 17
28 41 32 Terry Labonte Ford 16
29 27 38 Travis Kvapil Ford 0
30 43 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 0
31 24 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 13
32 32 13 Casey Mears Toyota 13
33 1 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 12
34 38 7 Robby Gordon Dodge 10
35 34 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 10
36 3 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 9
37 14 99 Carl Edwards Ford 8
38 35 135 Geoff Bodine Chevrolet 6
39 40 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 5
40 29 60 Mike Skinner Toyota 0
41 2 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 0
42 33 66 Michael McDowell Toyota 2
43 22 97 Kevin Conway Toyota 0

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Doesnt matter, it still will not save Ragan his job. I still say UPS will be with Bowyer at RCR on the 33 and Edwards will be in the Home Depot Toyota. I look at two similar factors, one being 2009 when McMurray and Kenseth were the only Roush cars to win and McMurray still end up getting the ax with his sponsor being moved to Kenseth, and ironically i look at Kenseth, who has won two races and pretty much a lock to make the chase, and Crown Royal will not be back on his car. If Kenseth can lose his sponsor with what he’s accomplished this year, Ragan still has no snowball’s chance in hell of keeping his job.

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