The Duncan Banner

Sports

May 6, 2013

Ragan steals last-lap victory at Talladega

TALLADEGA — Rain and wrecks pushed NASCAR to the edge of darkness Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, where three of the biggest names in the sport led the field to final flag.

NASCAR was giving it one final go to get the rain-delayed race wrapped up, and Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson were at the head of the pack for the two-lap overtime sprint to the finish.

None of them ever saw David Ragan coming.

Heck, Ragan barely even saw teammate David Gilliland hook onto his rear bumper. But Gilliland locked up with Ragan for that last-gasp push to the finish and the Front Row Motorsports drivers sliced their way to the front and put Ragan into Victory Lane for the tiny organization's first victory.

"This is a true David versus Goliath moment here," Ragan said.

It was the second career victory for Ragan — he also won at Daytona in July 2011 when he drove for Roush Fenway Racing — and Gilliland finished second for a 1-2 finish for Front Row Motorsports.

"I wouldn't want to line up and have to do it again," said Ragan, who didn't realize Gilliland was pushing him until he exited Turn 2 on the last lap. "That gave me a little extra confidence ... that I could make the right moves and I knew that he was going to stick with me. I had a great teammate. David Gilliland gave us a great push. I owe him a lot. I'll definitely buy him lunch this week or something."

The victory came a day after Regan Smith won the Nationwide Series race and Ragan was flooded with misfired congratulatory messages on Twitter.

"All fans- please send all congrats to (at)ReganSmith. Not this Ragan..... He is the Winner today!! Haha," he tweeted Saturday night.

Now Ragan has his own win — just in time to qualify for the Sprint All-Star race in two weeks.

Gilliland wanted the win but was content settling for second on a day his team earned its first victory.

"What a great day for Front Row Motorsports, an underfunded team coming in here and being able to finish 1-2 is awesome," Gilliland said. "I'm very proud of David Ragan. I know he would have done the same for me. I had a heck of a run, we were pushing, I was locked to his bumper and I wasn't going to let him go."

The race took seven hours to complete after rain stopped it for 3 hours, 36 minutes midway through the event. With darkness quickly closing in, contact between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and J.J. Yeley triggered a frightening crash that sent Kurt Busch's car airborne and on top of Ryan Newman's car.

Newman has been in numerous harrowing accidents at Daytona and Talladega, where NASCAR uses restrictor-plates to control the speeds, and was sharp with his criticism after exiting the infield care center. He said he only stopped to do a live television interview to criticize cars still being able to go airborne.

"They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can't get their heads out of their (expletive) far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing," Newman said. "I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is."

He also was upset NASCAR continued the race with darkness closing in on the track so quickly.

"That's no way to end a race," he said. "That's just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain. That's it, thank you."

Busch wasn't injured in the accident.

"We just got hit from behind, and along for the ride we went," he said, adding "Yes, lovely," when asked if he was OK.

NASCAR sent the race into overtime after the final accident for one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, and it seemed as though it might have been Kenseth's race to win.

He led a race-high 142 laps and was the leader on the final restart but was passed by Edwards on the first lap of overtime. He tried to get the lead back and was battling Edwards with no drafting partner. He never saw the pack coming behind him and, with nowhere to go, fell out of contention in the blink of an eye.

"Carl just got a rocket restart there, and he cleared me down the backstretch," Kenseth said. "He just got a huge run somehow. I was still second. I thought we still had a shot. I tried to get around Carl but he blocked, which you should. We got real wide getting up there and got pretty far to the top, and I just didn't watch the runs from the guys way in the back.

"I saw David at the last minute but he was going too fast. If I pulled in front of him I was just going to get wrecked. I just had to bite the bullet and try to find the hole, which there wasn't one. It was a disappointing end to the day but man, we had a great car.'

That's when Ragan and Gilliland came charging out of nowhere, sweeping past Edwards and Johnson and to the front.

"That was crazy," Edwards said. "I blocked everybody I could. I was doing everything I could. I blocked Matt and I thought, 'Oh, we've got it.' And then I saw Jimmie coming and I blocked him and I thought, 'Who is that back there?' It was this Ford freight train coming and I just couldn't stay in front of them."

Edwards wound up third for a sweep of the top three spots for Ford.

Michael Waltrip, who turned 50 this week and was running his first race since the Daytona 500, was fourth, and Daytona 500 winner Johnson was fifth after thinking the win was going to come down to him, Kenseth or Edwards.

"They came up on us so fast that I could see Carl trying to block and he finally said there's no real way to block the speed that they're bringing," Johnson said. "Those two had blown by and David had made it back to the checkered flag. So, it's really cool for that team."

Smith finished sixth and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Kenseth, Scott Speed and Aric Almirola.

Denny Hamlin successfully returned from a compression fracture in a vertebra by turning 23 laps before getting out of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for replacement driver Brian Vickers during the first caution. Hamlin climbed out through a roof hatch and Vickers slid in through the window quickly enough to keep the No. 11 on the lead lap.

"It was all about just going through the motions and getting the process of making a comeback, getting that started," Hamlin said. "This is the first week of a comeback. This is going to be the start of everything, so anything that Brian gets us for points today is strictly a bonus and we're going to start next week in Darlington with our hair on fire."

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • 4-23 duncan baseball photo.jpg Demons hoping for top-four finish

    The Duncan baseball team will need to take care of business next week in its final District 2-5A games.
    The Demons are 7-5 in district (16-9 overall) after dropping both games of a doubleheader at Carl Albert Monday, 8-1 and 4-1. The Titans (13-1, 26-4) won the district title.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Girls soccer gets it done at Altus

    The Duncan girls soccer team battled in a tough environment at Altus to win 1-0 Tuesday.
    Lady Demon coach Delydia Gay said it was frustrating at times for the girls because of some questionable calls the officials made. But she was happy the girls pulled together to win.

    April 23, 2014

  • Meshell shines as Outlaws beat Warriors

    The Marlow baseball team got help from Beau Meshell on the mound and at the plate in a 7-4 home victory against Anadarko Tuesday.
    Meshell held Anadarko to one earned run off three hits and did not walk a batter. He reached base three times, had one run batted in and scored one run.

    April 23, 2014

  • Girls golfers take fourth at Deer Creek

    The Duncan girls golfers took fourth at a tournament hosted by Deer Creek High School at Coffee Creek Golf Course in Edmond Tuesday.
    Lady Demon coach Steve Etheridge said that the girls played as well as they have all year. Although the golfers struggled putting on some fast greens, Etheridge was happy with their overall performance.

    April 23, 2014

  • Empire softball tries to spark offense

    The Lady Bulldogs are trying to find a way to spice up their offense in preparation for the Class 3A slowpitch softball playoffs.
    Empire has played a tough schedule, with four of the first seven games coming against ranked opponents. However, coach Tony Roberts thinks the team just needs to have some more timely hitting to get on the winning track.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-22 marlow baseball photo.jpg Outlaws shut out Indians

    Marlow baseball snapped a three-game losing streak with a 10-0 win at home against Comanche Monday.
    “We needed to get this win and we got it,” said Marlow coach Jeff Brewer.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-22 duncan golf photo albin.jpg Demon golfers focused on regionals

    The Duncan boys golfers have two more tournaments left before regionals.
    The Demons will head to Ardmore this Monday for a tournament that was postponed from March 3 because of the weather.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-22 tyee percival photo.jpg Tourney named in memory of T-ball player

    The Comanche Youth Council will dedicate its preseason baseball and softball tournament to the memory of a T-ball player who unexpectedly passed away this past weekend.
    Tyee Percival, 5, was in his first year of T-ball and played for the Rangers. The youth council has named its preseason tourney the Tyee Percival Memorial Tournament. The council will hang a commemorative banner over the T-ball field at the Comanche Field of Dreams.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lady Donkeys push towards playoffs

    Fighting its roster limitations, Bray-Doyle slowpitch softball has a rare opportunity in front of it.
    Coach Frank Moser is optimistic about his chances in district versus Mayesville and No. 5 Roff. While Roff has been one of the best teams in Class 2A — it has a winning record despite almost all of its games coming against ranked competitors — Mayesville has been one of the worst. It picked up its first win against Alex on April 8 by just one run.

    April 22, 2014

  • Outlaws have chance to host regionals

    The Marlow baseball team has had to overcome some adversity in recent weeks, but coach Jeff Brewer is confident the team will get back on track.
    The past week started with a road game at Blanchard, ranked seventh in Class 4A, last Tuesday. Then came a tough outing at home against Class 4A Newcastle Thursday and a showdown Friday at Sterling, ranked fourth in Class A.

    April 20, 2014

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
AP Video
Poll

Who do you favor for the U.S. Senate seat that Tom Coburn is giving up?

State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond
State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso
     View Results