Ragan used a late push from his Front Row Motorsports teammate David Gilliland to surge past Carl Edwards to take the green-white-checkered flag at the Aaron’s 499.
“First off, I’ve got to thank the Lord,” Ragan said. “Without him nothing is impossible. I’ve got to thank my teammates David Gilliland and Josh Wise. If it wasn’t for that push from David Gilliland, I don’t know what to say. This is a true David versus Goliath moment here.”
Sunday’s race was just over seven hours, thanks to a three hour and 36 minute rain delay. Caution came out on lap 124, just as pole-setter Carl Edwards nudged a half-car ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and NASCAR red-flagged the race.
Track officials sent the jet dryers and the air titan out after the first rain showers passed through the area. As they were working, another thunderstorm passed through from the south.
After the rain stopped, the dryers came out again, and NASCAR officials announced at 5:30 p.m. that the race would resume at 6 p.m.
If the race ended due to the weather, Carl Edwards would have won the race.
The rain began coming down with 66 laps to go. Edwards was in the lead when the red flag came out. Edwards went to the outside to slow up Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. just enough to take the lead by the nose of his No.99 Roush Fenway Ford before the third caution of the day came out.
“I was pretty frustrated about that,” Edwards said. “I was kind of really hoping for (more) rain.”
After the restart of the race it didn’t take long for the Big One to take 11 cars out of contention.
A huge wreck on lap 184 was caused by JJ Yeley, who tried to make a move to the inside, but he went back to the outside as Stenhouse, Jr. moved to the inside which forced Yeley into Kurt Busch who flipped onto Ryan Newman’s car.
Newman was displeased with NASCAR after being cleared from the infield medical center.
“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls but they cant get their heads out their expletive far enough to keep them on the race track,” Newman said. “That is pretty disappointing and I want to make sure I get that point across and y’all can figure out who they is. It’s no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. It was just poor judgment if restarting the race, you got what you wanted but it was poor judgment running in the dark and running in the rain.”
The seven-lap caution set up a restart for two laps with Carl Edwards in the lead. Edwards held the lead for a lap but David Ragan surged through a pack of drivers with a big enough push to separate him from the pack to take the green-white-checkered flag.
“I sure wouldn’t want to have to line up and have to do it again,” Ragan said. “I saw him (Kenseth) right in front of me, so I decided to stick with him. I thought that maybe we could get a good run and race for the win coming out of turn 4, but I didn’t know at the time … the 38 of David Gilliland was hooked to my rear bumper.”
Matt Kenseth, the dominant driver on Sunday, finished eighth. He led 142 laps in the Aaron’s 499, but when it counted he couldn’t get a good push to challenge for the victory.
“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.”
In the post-race interview Ragan was asked about Brad Kewslowski’s comments about him lining up in the wrong lane on the restart.
“I knew that we were probably a little higher than what we should be because we were running 20th or so when that wreck happened, and we made it through, so they (NASCAR) adjusted the lineup,” he said. “… So, NASCAR says that on the radio. They tell the spotters, tell the crew chiefs, so the 95 (Scott Speed) pulls up. Well, obviously, Brad wanted to start on the outside because he knew the same thing that I knew, that the outside lane had an advantage on the restart. Well, he just didn’t want to listen to NASCAR.”
The second caution of the day was due to the Big One that was caused when Kyle Busch hit Kasey Kahne, which turned him into the wall and back into the field 16 total cars involved on lap 43.
“I am alright,” Busch said. “I really don’t know what happen. I know I got in the back of the No.5 (Kahne) and I guess I was trying to get to the outside of him. He moved out in front of me and I wasn’t expecting it. I tried to go on the outside of him; before I was able to get to the outside of him I got in the back of him. I hate that I cause a hell of a melee for every body. I hate that. A lot of cars got torn up and it is way too early in the race to be doing any kind of sorts of moves whether he made or I made it.”
Michael Waltrip, the driver of the No.55 with the Aaron’s Dream Machine with Alabama National Championship theme finished fourth. NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson finished fifth. He leads Edwards by 41 points going into this weekend’s race at Darlington. Regan Smith, who won Saturday’s Aaron’s 312, finished sixth. Martin Truex, Jr. finished seventh, Kenseth finished eighth, while Scott Speed and Aric Almirola round out the top 10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 17th and Denny Hamlin/ Brian Vickers finished 34th.