DARLINGTON, S.C. -- David Ragan's Front Row Motorsports team certainly hasn't gone hungry this week. In the wake of their stunning upset victory last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, plenty of meals have been on the house.
Between breakfast from Sprint, lunch from Roush Yates' engine shop and other freebie food, there's been plenty of reason for elation around the team's modest shop in Statesville, N.C. The 1-2 finish for Ragan and teammate David Gilliland easily qualifies as the crowning achievement for team owner Bob Jenkins in his fifth season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
"It definitely helps the attitude out," Ragan said Friday at Darlington Raceway. "It's such a different scene from a larger team to a smaller organization. We've got 50, 60 employees and other teams have three or four hundred. Every single one of our guys had something to do with that race car. Every one of 'em touched it, worked on it, prepared it, set it up, painted it, loaded it up. Everyone had a part in it, so I think everyone feels a little bit more gratifying getting a win on a smaller program.
The victory caused a stir in more ways than one after defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski questioned NASCAR's running order before the final restart in last Sunday's Aaron's 499. His remarks on Twitter just moments after the race strongly suggested that Ragan had been handed the preferred line before the deciding green-white-checker overtime restart.
Keselowski back-pedaled with an apology Tuesday, the same day he spoke with Ragan to sort out the issue.
"That shows that Brad is a good champion, a good role model," Ragan said. "That gave me a little bit different outlook on what Brad's deal was. Brad certainly didn't have all his facts right when he spoke after the race. That didn't really bother me, but it bothered some of your fans, some of your family. ?
"The technology is in place for us to look and understand every move that NASCAR does. I knew what we had going on, so I think there was just a miscommunication. There was never any hard feelings toward Brad, but that was cool for him to do that. He certainly didn't have to; that was something he did on his own and I've got a lot of respect for him for that."
In addition to the much-needed lifting of spirits, the Talladega win also gave Ragan an automatic berth in next weekend's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The No. 34 team had planned on trying to qualify for the main event in the Sprint Showdown last-chance race, also using the 40-lap preliminary as a test session for the Coca-Cola 600 the following weekend.
"Now we've got to scrap that plan and get ready for the segments," Ragan said. "I don't even know what the segments are for the All-Star Race this year. I'm probably not the only one, but I need to look into that."
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