Harry C. Risher
Greensburg Daily News
”Underdog” David Ragan won Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, driving the #34 Ford of the relatively unknown Front Row Motorsports race team.
Ragan’s thrilling last-lap, upset victory was the first for the small, under-funded NASCAR team, the second Sprint Cup career win for Ragan, and the first NASCAR Sprint Cup win for a car number-34 since 1964. Ironically, Ragan didn’t take the lead until the final corner of the thrilling, rain-delayed, wreck-filled race. At that crucial point in the closely contested event, the race was ultimately decided by a brave and well-timed move made by an unlikely pair of small team competitors both with the first name of David. In that last-lap, race-winning, miracle move, David Gilliland (Front Row Motorsports’s teammate of eventual winner David Ragan) pushed Ragan right through the middle of the crowded pack past race favorites Jimmy Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and finally a surprised race leader Carl Edwards, to the checked flag.
The diminutive and appreciative Georgia native commented on his unbelievable upset victory on NASCAR’s fastest speedway.
“My teammate David Gilliland was there for me that whole last lap-and-a-half,” said Ragan. “I knew he going to go with me, and that gave me a little extra confidence that I could make my moves. Man, when we looked up and saw the start/finish line, I hoped I wasn’t dreaming or something - that it wasn’t five laps to go, and that really was the checked flag! Our Farm Rich Ford was fast. We did our race game plan methodically. It felt like it was a 24-hour race today! We had a good strategy. A little bit of luck came into play here and there. But when it counted our Ford was fast, and we were able to drive to the front. I can’t say enough about our Front Row Motor Sports team! A one-two finish here means a lot! Talladega is a special place. This is the biggest, meanest, and toughest track on the circuit. It doesn’t get any better or bigger than (winning) at Talladega Superspeedway! This is so big! ... This is a true David versus Goliath (win)! We are a smaller team. We’ve worked so hard. We’ve had some great runs ... we’ve knocked on the door. Today we knocked the door down!”
Late race leader Carl Edwards finished a close third to second-place Gilliland and winner Ragan, making it a 1-2-3 sweep for Ford Motor Company competitors. Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Johnson rounded out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
The NASCAR stars return to the Series’ first super speedway - Darlington for the next event on the Sprint Cup circuit.