2011-07-07 / Sports

Ragan Wins In Wild Daytona Shootout

By Gerald Hodges

David Ragan David Ragan DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- – David Ragan took the lead and held on for two greenwhite checker finishes to score his first career Sprint Cup points’ victory at Daytona in Saturday night’s wild Coke Zero 400 finish. Matt Kenseth, who pushed Ragan to the victory, finished second. The two paired for the entire race, combining to lead 29 laps.

“It’s a good feeling to come back here – we got one back at Daytona,” said Ragan, 25, who was making his 163rd Cup start. “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.’”

Ragan’s win couldn’t have come at a better time. In a contract year, with rumors swirling about a possible driver change in the No. 6 Ford and possible dissatisfaction on the part of sponsor UPS (also in a contract year), Ragan bulled his way into the mix for a position in the Chase.

Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch finished third, fourth and fifth.

Busch, who started 38th, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Joey Logano, who started 37th, worked together all night long as they did in earlier Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Daytona and Talladega, including Friday night’s Nationwide Series race where Busch pushed Logano to victory on the final lap.

Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top 10.

For another of Ragan’s teammates, Carl Edwards, the race was a disaster. Edwards entered the event with a 25-point lead in the Cup standings over secondplace Harvick, but that didn’t survive the evening.

Edwards finished 37th, and lost the points lead to Harvick, who now leads Edwards by five points and third-place Kyle Busch by 10.

The race wasn’t five laps old when it became obvious Trevor Bayne wouldn’t repeat as a Daytona winner in 2011. Pushed by Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Dodge, Bayne’s Ford spun in Turn 1 and nosed into the outside wall. The night’s racing was over for him.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led one lap, but finished 19th.

Polesitter Mark Martin was caught up in one of the late wrecks and wound up 33rd.

There were six caution periods for 21 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 170-lap race, which was extended 10 laps due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 17 of 36: 1. Harvick-586, 2. Edwards-581, 3. Kyle Busch-576, 4. Kurt Busch- 570, 5. Kenseth-564, 6. Johnson 564, 7. Earnhardt 534, 8. J. Gordon-519, 9. Bowyer-505, 10. Newman-498, 11. Hamlin- 495, 12. Stewart-494

Logano gets Daytona Nationwide race

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Joey Logano didn’t lead Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 until the final half mile, but that was all the 21-yearold driver of the No. 20 Toyota needed to notch his first victory at Daytona International Speedway.

As the action in Turn 4 on the final lap unfolded behind him, Logano surged into the lead and held off a charge from Jason Leffler to win his first Nationwide Series race of the season and the ninth of his career.

“Any time we’ve hooked up like that we’ve been pretty successful,” Logano said. “Usually, I’m the guy that’s finished second – unfortunately – but this time I am the winner, so I’m pretty pumped up about that. This is a huge win for me for a lot of reasons.”

Logano took the checkered flag as many of the cars that had led into the final turn – including those of Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler – wrecked behind him.

Leffler ran second followed by series points leader Reed Sorenson, who also claimed a $100,000 prize as the highest finisher among four drivers eligible for Nationwide’s Dash 4 Cash program.

Kyle Busch came home fourth, Justin Allgaier fifth and Michael Annett sixth. Kenny Wallace skated through the infield grass and took the checkered flag in seventh position, ahead of the wrecked cars of Sadler, Almirola and Patrick, which slid across the finish line in positions 7-10, respectively.

Top-10 points leaders after 17 of 34: 1. Sorenson-610, 2. Sadler-601, 3. Stenhouse-579, 4. Allgaier-573, 5. Leffler-537, 6. Almirola-529, 7. K. Wallace-494, 8. S. Wallace-467, 9. Scott-454, 10. Annett-446.

Meanwhile, in winning the pole at Daytona International Speedway, Mark Martin became the eighth driver with 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles. With a speed of 182.065 mph (49.433 seconds), Martin won his third Daytona pole, and joined an exclusive list that features some of the sport’s all-time greats.

Here is the exclusive “50 Poles Club:” Richard Petty - 123, David Pearson-113, Jeff Gordon-70, Cale Yarborough 69, Darrell Waltrip-59, Bobby Allison-58, Bill Elliott- 55, Mark Martin-50.

In other racing news, Kurt Busch walked in the media center Thursday and said he wanted to clear the air about his personal life, he said he was going through a divorce.

“Although we are no long-er together and are legally separated, we appreciate privacy in this situation,” Busch said. “All I want to say on this is we are going though the process of terminating our marriage, but we are doing it with respect for each other and we’ll always be friends.”

Danica Patrick, who finished 10th in the Daytona Nationwide race said she is not ready to announce her 2012 racing plans. Although the expectation is that she will move to NASCAR full time next year, she has refused to commit.

“Obviously I’m racing in NASCAR and not made anyone wonder whether or not I like it,” she said. “As I’ve said at the beginning of the year, it’s complicated and takes time. Whether I’m coming here or not has yet to be signed, sealed and delivered.”

Weekend racing: It will be a tripleheader of night races for all three of NASCAR’s major series at Kentucky Speedway, a 1.5-mile facility located in north-central Kentucky, halfway between Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Thurs., July 7, Camping World Trucks UNOH 225, race 9 of 24, starting time: 8 p.m.; TV: SPEED.

Friday, July 8, Nationwide Feed the Children 300, race 18 of 34, starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Sat., July 9, Sprint Cup Quaker State 400, race 18 of 36, starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: TNT.

Racing trivia question: How many NASCAR Cup championships did Bobby Allison win?

Last week’s question: Which team did Bobby Labonte drive for when he won the 2000 Cup championship? Answer. Joe Gibbs Racing.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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