CONCORD, NC – David Ragan continued the improvements he has shown this season, qualifying eighth and nearly winning Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR longest race.
A rare blown engine by Jimmie Johnson brought out the caution with 4 laps remaining setting up an overtime, "green-white-checkers" finish with different teams using different strategies.
Crew chief Drew Blickesnderfer made a gutsy call to pit for four tires and fuel even though Ragan was sitting in fifth. He took the green in 10th.
Leader Kasey Kahne ran out of gas at the green causing a melee on the track and handing the lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr when NASCAR did not throw a caution despite cars wrecking mid-pack. With fresh tires and dodging several wrecking cars, Ragan made it up to fourth at the white flag.
In turn four of the final lap, more cars ran out of fuel including the leader Earnhardt. Kevin Harvick snagged the win while Ragan finished second, his best career finish in the Cup series.
“I thought it was going to get ugly there at the end, which it did for everyone else and not us,” said Ragan. “We had a top three or four car, I think. That last caution came out we were going to be like a lap or two short. I thought Drew made a pretty gutsy call to come in and pit and when you've got four fresh tires and you’re full of fuel, you can be aggressive on those restarts and I was just very lucky to get through turn one without getting wrecked."
"We had a strong car all day. That’s a finish that we deserved, but we just went about doing it the hard way,” he added.