The driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine drove from his 25th starting spot to third before late race handling issues dropped him to 18th.
His 107 green flag passes was the third most of any driver during the 400-mile race.
“I felt like I had to drive really hard all night long just to keep up with the cars around me,” said the Michael Waltrip Racing driver who posted the 13th-best average running position during the race.
NASCAR mandated teams reduce the rear spoiler from 6 to 3.5 inches, cars also had front splitters expanded by 25 inches with an overhang reduced by 1.75 inches. The new rules produced 13 lead changes among eight drivers and a track-record 22 green-flag passes for the lead.
“The combination of Kentucky Speedway that produces good racing normally and the new rules package made for a really fun race. I hope we use this package for all the 1.5-mile tracks.”
Ragan said it was obvious from the moment teams took to the track on Friday the new rules would make a huge impact.
“If you were there Friday and saw how many cars were sideways in practice you knew what was coming for the race. If you watched on television Saturday, you saw a lot of side-by-side passing. However, if you were sitting in the grandstand you saw even more because all of us were battling out there no matter where we were running.
“I was racing as hard when I was 25th at the beginning of the race as I was in third midway through the race.”
The Kentucky race is just the first of several new rule packages announced for upcoming races.
Cars will carry higher drag at Michigan and Indianapolis while lower downforce and higher grip tires are expected at Darlington. Richmond race will run with higher grip tires.“It’s going to make it hard on the drivers and teams racing without testing the packages a lot but that’s OK. Fans want to see us racing side-by-side and we want to race side-by-side,” said the 29-year-old Georgian. “If we can put on the best show for the television audience and fans in the stands then everyone in the sport wins.”