Underdog David Ragan Scores Talladega Win In Aaron’s 499 [VIDEO]
Before he was NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Brad Keselowski was an underdog. That meant driving for a team that lacked the resources to compete with the top teams in the sport week after week. Keselowski won a race at Talladega Superspeedway by not giving an inch to a more accomplished opponent.
That scene played out again on a soggy Sunday as a nearly 4 hour delay for rain and a late caution pushed the race to extra distance and near darkness before David Ragan topped the scoring pylon in the Aaron’s 499. Not that Ragan will reach the same heights as the current champ, but the axiom was proven true again: Anyone can win at Talladega. Ragan had the additional services of a willing teammate to provide the winning push in the form of David Gilliland who ended up being the bookend for a 1-2 finish for Front Row Motorsports. Never heard of them? You’re not alone. The operation started on a part-time basis before running full-time in the top series in 2009.
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It’s hard to say this race had everything, but there was plenty of fire under the kettle to keep it cooking. Denny Hamlin got cleared to race after suffering a fracture in his back a few weeks ago, but the wreck potential is high at NASCAR’s largest track. Hamlin was to cede control of driving duties to Brian Vickers at the first caution period. Smart move. The next yellow flag was for a 13-car wreck that caught up Vickers and a few other contenders.
The rain delay of almost 4 hours in length with 63 laps still to be completed sent the race to near darkness at a facility that has insufficient light to run after sunset. So after Ricky Stenhouse tried to squeeze past J.J. Yeley with 6 laps left causing Kurt Busch to get a wild ride, the final stage was set.
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One chance for a green-flag finish because the darkness would come too soon for the three tries allowed. Matt Kenseth was the favorite on that final restart as he brought the field back to green with a dominant car leading 142 laps in total. Polesitter Carl Edwards was also poised for the win and Jimmie Johnson in position to pounce as well. Those were the top three with one lap to go. However at a restrictor plate track two cars work better than one and the Front Row Motorsports teammates were the two to beat on the last circuit. The move that sprung Ragan and Gilliland to the Promised Land was actually a move to the top lane by Aric Almirola coming off turn 2 attempting to pass Kenseth. On the back stretch Edwards was out front and tried a move to the outside lane to block Kenseth. That left the two Davids in tandem to keep their full head of steam. Edwards tried one more block before entering turn 3, but Ragan sped past and from there it was everyone on their own.
Edwards got nipped for third with Michael Waltrip and Johnson comprising the top 5. Matt Kenseth’s dominant machine fell to 8th. Cinderella might have been in vogue in Alabama. Next week a different lady comes to the dance dressed in black. She is more affectionately known as Darlington Raceway.