David Ragan Inches Closer to First Career Sprint Cup Win

Paul Carreau@@PaulCarreauAnalyst IMay 30, 2011

AVONDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  David Ragan, driver of the #6 UPS Ford, walks in the garage area during practice for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on February 25, 2011 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If you were able to withstand the entire broadcast of Sunday night's Coca Cola 600, first off, congratulations. This is the longest race on the NASCAR schedule, and after a race that lasted just about five hours, I'm sure there were some fans at home watching that were just as tired as the drivers who were racing it.

The end of the race provided plenty of drama. As the laps wound down, every driver on the lead lap was questioning whether or not they could make it to the end of the race without running out of fuel.

Then, to add a little more drama, a caution came out with four laps to go when Jimmie Johnson's engine let go. Under the yellow, about half of the field elected to come down pit road and top off their gas tanks, just to ensure they would make it to the end.

David Ragan was the first of those drivers to do so. He would go on to take the ensuing restart in 10th place.

Then, as the field was coming to take the one to go signal, race leader Greg Biffle came down pit road as he was out of gas. This handed the front row to Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

When the green flag waved to restart the race, Kahne never got going. He was out of gas, and as he failed to get up to speed, a melee occurred behind him. Cars began to plow into the back of each other with Brad Keselowski sustaining a lot of damage, and Jeff Burton getting spun into the infield.

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Through all this, no caution waved, and Earnhardt Jr. pulled away. As he took the white flag, it appeared that his 104 race winless streak would come to an end. But as he was making the final turn, he too ran out of fuel, as did Denny Hamlin who was right behind him.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Kevin Harvick, who was also extremely low on fuel, charged out of Turn 4 and inherited the lead. He made it to the start/finish line first, and claimed his series best third win of the year. Harvick led a total of just two laps en route to the win.

The second place finisher was the driver who had come off pit road first under the final caution, David Ragan.

The runner up finish is a career best for Ragan, who for the second time this year was left to wonder what could have been. Ragan ran up front all night long, and was certainly strong enough to win, but on this night it just wasn't meant to be.

This easily could have been Ragan's second win of the season. Ragan was leading the season opening Daytona 500 when he got penalized on the second to last restart of the day. Ragan had chosen the outside lane for the restart, and prior to the green flag coming out, he changed his lane when he cut down in front of eventual race winner, Trevor Bayne.

He was issued a black flag, and sent to the tail end of the longest line for the final restart. He ultimately finished 14th in that race.

So, for the second time this year, Ragan was oh, so close to scoring that elusive first ever win, but at least this time he got a finish that reflected how strong of a night he had.

David Ragan is a young driver who races hard, but clean. He is a driver who has taken plenty of criticism over the last couple of years for not living up to expectations, and he is a driver that wants nothing more than to win a race in NASCAR's top series.

While the Coca Cola 600 provided him with a career best finish, it was one spot worse than he would have really liked. But rest assured that if he continues to run that strong, he won't have to wait much longer for his first career trip to victory lane.