David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 20
Finishing Position: 13
David Ragan started his fourth straight All-Star race Saturday night, earning a berth with last season’s win at Talladega Superspeedway. The evening began with the Sprint Cup Series’ unique All-Star qualifying session that included three solo laps plus a four-tire pit stop. The No. 34 Taco Bell team’s qualifying run put Ragan 20th on the starting grid for the main feature that immediately followed.
Like the qualifying procedure, the All-Star race itself had a unique format. The event consisted of four 20-lap segments, a mandatory four-tire pit stop, followed by a final 10-lap segment. The first to the finish claimed $1 million.
Ragan’s starting position proved beneficial, with several accidents up front knocking multiple cars out of the race. The driver’s main request of crew chief Jay Guy throughout the race was to get the car feeling more “in the racetrack.” The team used every pit stop to work in that direction, and made some improvements as the short race progressed and Ragan moved up the leaderboard.
The No. 34 team started the final segment 13th. Those final 10 laps featured less action that the previous segments, with no accidents, no cautions and little opportunity for passing. Ragan maintained his position until the checkers waved, crossing the finish in 13th.
In addition to a top-15 finish, the team also took away valuable knowledge for next week’s Coca-Cola 600, when NASCAR returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the longest race of the Sprint Cup Series season.
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan after the All-Star race:
“That was a pretty good effort for the ’34’ team. When you have a bunch of guys racing for a million dollars, things can get a little dicey. And they did. We had a real good view of one of the wrecks but fortunately stayed out of it. Most importantly, we learned some things that can help us next week when we’ll be out here for a much longer race. All-Star weekend is always fun, we were happy to be here and proud to be a part of it.”