Roush Fenway Racing’s David Ragan nearly went to Victory Lane in the season-opening Daytona 500, but an ill-timed lane change led to a black flag and a disappointing 14th place finish.
Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, Ragan was able to make up for his costly mistake and score his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Partnering with teammate Matt Kenseth for the entirety of the Coke Zero 400, Ragan was able to survive three late-race wrecks and two attempts at a Green-White-Checkered finish to accomplish the feat.
“Everybody kept talking about (the Daytona 500) and I just tried to take the positive from it and move on,” he said. “I can’t thank my spotter and my crew chief and my team enough. They really humbled me and kept me focused. Matt pushed me to the finish line. The Roush Yates horsepower was great. Doug and Robert Yates back at the house, thanks for all the help. I thank the fans and Sprint. There’s not a better night to win. This is awesome.”
Ragan and Kenseth were able to take the green flag on the final GWC start lined up nose to tail, while many others jockeyed to find their drafting partner behind them.
Taking the lead, the Roush Fenway teammates were able to hold off the tandem of Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne, while two separate wrecks happened behind them on the final lap.
The win was a popular one, especially for Logano. He and Ragan raced legends cars as young drivers and have come up the ranks together.
“David and I grew up together,” Logano said. “Since I was 9 years old we’ve raced against each other. I went over to Victory Lane and congratulated him. He deserves it, for sure. I know how he felt after the (Daytona) 500 this year. I can only imagine how tough that’s got to be, you know.”
The win was also a boost for Ragan at a time when questions linger about UPS’ future with Roush Fenway Racing. Currently in negotiations, team owner Jack Roush said he was hopeful UPS would resign and believe Ragan’s win proved he could get to Victory Lane.
After the race, UPS issued the following statement:
“We’re very proud to have David Ragan as UPS Racing’s brand ambassador and are excited to congratulate him on his first win. David has a great future ahead of him and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane with him.”
“David has arrived at the upper echelon,” Roush said. “He’s a winner now. And he’s given a win to UPS, and hopefully they’ll consider that as they think about the value of the program and what it means to all their employees and what it means to their customers to have this association.”