Points: 29th Overall
Brooklyn, M.I. (6/17/12) – – David Ragan earned his 7th top-25 finish of the 2012 season in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. After qualifying 38th, Ragan ran as high as 5th in the event before bringing his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford home 23rd.
After a one-and-a-half hour rain delay, the No. 34 team was ready to put its best foot forward for its 200-lap trek around the two- mile oval. The track had recently been repaved, and teams had been at the facility since Thursday to participate in hours of testing and practice sessions in preparation for Sunday’s race.
Goodyear responded to an overwhelming amount of teams experiencing ‘blistering’ tires after runs of only about twenty laps, by making the decision to switch the right side tire compound prior to Sunday’s race. The change went into effect following Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session and NASCAR awarded teams an additional practice session on Saturday evening to test the new compound.
Once the green flag finally dropped, Ragan proved to be a man on the move, performing a total of 85 green flag passes, 31 more than race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The team took advantage of the first yellow flag of the afternoon to address a condition Ragan described as “free in, tight off.” This yellow also provided the team an opportunity to evaluate tire wear, in which it observed no signs of blistering after the short run.
By lap 90, Ragan and Crew Chief, Jay Guy appeared to have found a rhythm, clicking off lap times in the low 38 second bracket, running their fastest times of the day.
A pair of solid pit stops by the MHP X-Fit pit crew put the No. 34 team in the 20th position on a restart with 69 laps to go.
Ragan once again had his hands full on lap 132 as he successfully saved his sideways racecar after making slight contact with the No. 43 Ford of Aric Almirola.
On lap 168, Ragan brought his Front Row Motorsports Ford down pit road for its final pit stop of the day. The final adjustment on the No. 34 car was an attempt to tweak a car that was “okay in clean air, but too free in traffic,” according to Ragan. The team took four tires and fuel before heading back out onto the track.
Yet another solid pit stop had put the team in position to race its way to the checkered flag, where Ragan and his Front Row Motorsports team crossed the finish line in the 23rd position.
David Ragan Post Race Comments on Michigan:
“Our team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend. We’ve had two long weekends, back-to-back. We were forced to overcome a number of obstacles including: a new surface, a tire compound change after qualifying and high mileage on our racecar and motor. I feel we were good enough to finish in the top-20, but couldn’t get a caution to fall at the right time for us as the race neared its end. Nonetheless, we ended up with a good finish and another top-25 for our Front Row Motorsports team. This run will definitely give us a solid base of notes and a lot of confidence for our August return to the Irish Hills.”
Crew Chief Jay Guy Post Race Comments on Michigan:
“The biggest thing we fought all day was a lack of grip. That is something you will encounter when you have a racetrack that is newly repaved and does not have a lot of rubber buildup yet. Michigan used to have a definitive high and low groove. This weekend, it looked like most of the field was left fighting for a ‘sweet spot’ that was about a lane above the inside white line of the racetrack.”
“We were thrown a lot of curveballs this weekend with the weather, the tire switch and the new surface. Our No. 34 crew did a great job working through each and every one of those issues and I’m proud of them for doing so.”