Who says one can’t earn redemption? Just five short months ago, David Ragan made his biggest mistake by far and finally, Ragan got it right.
It took two attempts at a green-white-checkered-flag finish, Ragan was out in the front of the pack when the caution flew for the 10th lap of overtime (thought it would never end) of the Coke Zero 400, giving Ragan his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
At Daytona in February, Ragan gave away a chance to win the Daytona 500 when he changed lanes before the start/finish line on a restart and drew a penalty from NASCAR.
All of this “bad” luck would quickly change for Ragan, on a night like tonight. The one thing I have learned from Roush Fenway this year, their mentality is an entire team effort. Ragan’s teammate Matt Kenseth, showed his loyalty to the young driver from Unadilla, Georgia.
If you are Ragan, you not only wanted to win this race, but you also wanted to show your sponsor how you can win. After news broke about Kenseth’s sponsor Crown Royal would be leaving after this year, many speculated that UPS would join Kenseth and leave Ragan out in the dust. UPS put out this statement immediately at the end of the race: “We’re very proud to have David Ragan as UPS Racing’s brand ambassador and are excited to congratulate him on his first win,” said Ron Rogowski, UPS vice president, sponsorships & events. “David has a great future ahead of him and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane with him.”
“It’s a good feeling to come back here — we got one back at Daytona,” said Ragan, who was making his 163rd career 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.’
“We were able to win, and that does ease the pain from February. It’s still nice to think about that Daytona 500 ring, but it’s awesome. This is a great race. It does ease the pain, and so we’ll think about this one a lot more than we’ll think about the Daytona 500.”
Not only was this a big win for Ragan, but also a very important race for Kenseth. As mentioned before, Kenseth needed a really great finish to hopefully bring in some additional sponsor requests for the 2012 Sprint Cup season. Kenseth’s P2 finish was a sign of hard work, dedication, and loyalty to his teammate, something every driver would hope to see from their own at a track like Daytona.
Ragan was asked at the end of the race what he planned on doing once he got back home, Ragan replied, “I plan on just cutting the grass, cleaning the house some, and stare at the trophy for a while.” No one in the garage area but Ragan, deserved a shot at redemption and history is definitely on Ragan’s side after this one!