With one of the fastest cars all weekend, David Ragan was finally able to seal the deal and capture the Sprint Showdown from the pole. Battling with Brad Keselowski, Ragan was able to make the move for the lead exiting the second turn with two laps to go.
“There for a few laps I thought that we were just going to have to run second,” Ragan said. “Everything is a lot easier if you have a fast race car. I just tried not to make any mistakes those last few runs.”
Fast from the drop of the green flag, Ragan led the field to the end of the first segment. As the majority of the field headed to pit road, Ragan, Paul Menard, Keselowski and four others opted to stay out during the caution separating the two 20-lap segments.
As the second segment got underway, Keselowski got a great jump on the bottom to go three-wide for the lead into Turn 1. With the rest of the field battling behind them, Keselowski and Ragan pulled away in clean air. Getting a great run as the laps clicked away, Ragan made his move with two laps to go.
“Clean air was everything,” Ragan said. “I felt like those restarts was going to determine who was going to win and who wasn’t. If you would have threw a guy running sixth and seventh in the lead, I think they would have had the speed to stay up there.
“Just fortunate we were able to get through the restarts, not lose a lot of ground,” he added. “Our car was pretty good there at the end. So it was cool to get the win.”
Missing out on the win, Keselowski was pleased with racing his way into the night’s main event.
“I certainly didn’t let him go, I can tell you that,” Keselowski said. “I saw him coming and tried to not let him go (by). I didn’t want to lose the race, but I wasn’t going to wreck myself trying to win when I knew I could transfer from second. I certainly didn’t let him go. His car was just that strong. He went right by me, dirty air and all.”
Finishing in the sixth spot, Dale Earnhardt Jr. also transferred into the Sprint All-Star Race by securing the Sprint Fan Vote.
“I see it a whole lot different from this side of the fence than a lot of people do,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I didn’t take it for granted. I knew my fans were working really hard. They’ve done a great job over the last several years of locking up the Most Popular Driver Award. All the credit goes to them. They do all the work, support us so much, really believe in what we’re trying to accomplish.
“It makes going out there and working harder and harder to try to get where you want to be, be more successful, be a better competitor when you got that many people behind you.”
The racing action was slowed for three on-track incidents, the first of which came in the opening laps. After cutting a left rear tire, the No. 09 of Landon Cassill slid up the banking into Turn 1. Narrowly missing Joe Nemechek and David Stremme, Cassill was plowed into by the No. 64 of Derrike Cope. Despite the vicious hit, both drivers were able to walk away.
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