David Ragan left the weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with his first top 10 finish for Front Row Motorsports since Martinsville Speedway in October of 2014. Ragan, who started the GEICO 500 in 29th, finished 10th in his No. 38 Camping World / Good Sam Ford.
Ragan and the No. 38 team had a clean day for the most part. Coming to a track like Talladega is always exciting for small teams like Front Row Motorsports. That is because the 2.66-mile superspeedway can produce surprise winners – such as Ragan himself back in 2013 there with Front Row Motorsports.
With Talladega so big, a team can be leading one lap and sit 40th the next. They can also be sitting 40th and find themselves leading the race the next time around. When stage one ended on lap 55, Ragan sat 23rd on the race leaderboard.
Before stage two, Ragan reported that the temps were up on the No. 38 Ford and debated if to pull tape. The team eventually decided to just clean the grill as it was scattered in trash. They also put on four fresh tires and fuel.
Ragan found himself sitting third at one time in stage two. However, a short time later, the low line lost momentum and evaporated. Ragan then dropped outside the top 10 and later finished stage two sitting 21st on the leaderboard.
At the end of stage two, Ragan and the team pitted for four tires and fuel to begin the final stage of the race. This stage ended up being the most eventful for the No. 38 team in the GEICO 500.
On lap 168, 58 laps into the final stage of the race, Ragan was involved in a crash on the backstretch that involved 17 other drivers. Despite that, Ragan only suffered damage in the front end and was able to bring his No. 38 Ford to pit road for repairs. The team repaired the car enough in the five-minute allotted time to rejoin the field. He later restarted 23rd on the leaderboard.
Two more cautions appeared in the final 16 laps – including one that sent the race into NASCAR Overtime. Ragan stayed clean and green through these to take home a 10th-place finish.
"Yeah, a team effort for sure. We had a really good car. It as a calm race until the last 50 laps,” said Ragan after the race. “You just didn't know when to be aggressive and when not to. We wanted to take care of our Camping World Ford. We got a little bit of damage there at the end and got damage from one of those wrecks and had to spend some time on pit road. The team did a great job fixing it up. The car still drove great at the end. We were able to get in the right lane, get the right help when we needed to."
Ragan’s teammate Landon Cassill finished 29th due to a transmission issue with 18 laps remaining. Cassill started the event in 25th.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will head to Kansas Speedway for the first night race of the season. In the race there last May at Kansas, Ragan started 34th and finished 29th for BK Racing. The team led the field for one circuit.
Kansas hasn’t been a track kind to the Georgia native. In 16 trips there, Ragan has only one top 10 finish – coming in 2008 under the Roush Fenway Racing banner. In October of 2016, the driver finished a disappointing 36th after starting 28th.
Ragan enters the 1.5-mile oval sitting 28th in points after 10 races. He leaves Talladega with an average start of 29.4 and an average finish of 24.7. The team has only suffered one DNF so far this season.