Parks Pit Report: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

A critical mistake in the Daytona 500 cost David Ragan the victory. In his return to Daytona, redemption was his as Ragan won the Coke Zero 400 after two green-white-checkered finishes.

Every one of us has experienced moments where we wish we could redeem ourselves.  Maybe it was something a friend asked you to do, but couldn’t pull through at the last minute.  Maybe it was that job you were asked to do, but it took longer than anticipated.

When it comes to NASCAR, there aren’t many opportunities to redeem yourself for something that happened on the track.  They rarely come, and often the opportunity disappears faster than it came.

Saturday night at Daytona, everything lined up to give one driver a chance for redemption.

In February, with the end of the Daytona 500 looming, David Ragan found himself in the outside lane, with Trevor Bayne to his inside.  Ragan was the leader of the race, and elected to use the outside line to take the green flag.  When the green came out, Ragan jumped ahead and went low in front of Bayne to get a push.

Here’s the problem, the NASCAR rule book states on restarts, a driver must maintain their current lane until you pass the start/finish line, with the exception if there is an accident in front of you.

Ragan moved down when the green waved, and crossed the line in front of Bayne.  The caution flew, but Bayne was already given the black flag and had to serve a penalty.  In the car, Bayne was kicking himself for what he did because he had no one else to blame but himself for what happened.  He cost himself the win, simple as that.

Saturday night, it was almost a case of deja vu because Ragan again found himself in the lead late in the race, and there is no question the memory of what happened in February had to be running through his mind.

But this time the plan was easier to follow.  Teammate Matt Kenseth was third on the grid entering the final restart, which meant he would be on the inside line for the restart.  With Ragan leading, he once again had the choice as to which lane he wanted.  He and Kenseth already talked and Kenseth would be the one that would push him wherever he needed to go on the track to get the win.

When that green flag came out, Ragan stood on the gas and Kenseth got right to his bumper, and he never left.

A wreck behind them ultimately ended the race, but at that point Ragan already had pulled away from the field.  It was his night to redeem himself for his blunder in February.  He said in victory lane that he told UPS, his sponsor, for the last few years he would get a victory for them, and he got the job done.

With all the questions as to if he would return to Roush-Fenway Racing next season, he was determined to get the job done for his team and himself.  Now, he can say that he officially got a win to go along with all three of his teammates.

Redemption was his, the victory was his, and all those memories from February…gone.

RESULTS: 1-Ragan  2-Kenseth  3-Logano  4-Kahne  5-Kyle Busch  6-Gordon  7-Harvick  8-Menard  9-Montoya  10-Allmendinger

NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Stewart  14-Kurt Busch  19-Earnhardt Jr.  20-Johnson  33-Martin  37-Edwards

CAUTIONS: 6 for 21 laps.  Lap 6-8 (#2, 21, 33 accident-T1), 24-26 (#16, 99 accident-T4), 49-53 (#36 accident-T1), 159-162 (#4, 18, 20, 24, 42 accident-T4), 164-168 (#5, 83, 20, 56, 33, 87, 78, 51, 4, 13, 38, 14, 22, 00, 34 accident-T1), 170-170 (#00, 1, 9, 11, 14, 22, 31, 38, 39, 42, 48, 51, 78, 83, 88 accident-trioval).

LEAD CHANGES: 57 among 25 drivers.  Martin 1-15, Earnhardt Jr. 16, Kurt Busch 17-18, Edwards 19, Kurt Busch 20-23, Gordon 24, Harvick 25-26, Menard 27, Ragan 28, Smith 29-30, Truex Jr. 31-36, Ragan 37-40, Kahne 41, Truex Jr. 42, Kenseth 43-48, Kahne 49, Kyle Busch 50, Kvapil 51, Kahne 52-53, Truex Jr. 54-57, Smith 58-59, Kenseth 60-63, Kahne 64, Menard 65, Kahne 66-69, Stewart 70, Truex Jr. 71-73, Kahne 74, Mears 75-76, Nemechek 77, Kahne 78-85, Kyle Busch 86-88, Kahne 89, Menard 90-92, Kyle Busch 93, Mears 94, Burton 95-97, Bowyer 98-99, Truex Jr. 100, Kyle Busch 101-102, Truex Jr. 103, Ragan 104-105, Newman 106, Hamlin 107-110, Keselowski 111, Biffle 112, Montoya 113-114, Harvick 115, McMurray 116, Harvick 117-121, Bowyer 122, Newman 123-130, Kyle Busch 131-134, Harvick 135-142, Newman 143-153, Kenseth 154-157, Newman 158-162, Ragan 163-170.

TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 39 Mins, 53 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED: 159.491 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY: Under Caution

POINT STANDINGS (Top-12): 1. Harvick, 586 points; 2. Edwards, -5; 3. Kyle Busch, -10; 4. Kurt Busch, -16; 5. Kenseth, -22; 6. Johnson, -22; 7. Earnhardt Jr, -52; 8. Gordon, -67; 9. Bowyer, -81; 10. Newman, -88; 11. Hamlin, -91; 12. Stewart, -92.  CURRENT CHASE WILD CARDS:  Hamlin (11th, 1 win), Ragan (17th, 1 win).

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