Ragan redeems himself at Daytona

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 4, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Daytona 500 was one big could’ve, would’ve, should’ve for David Ragan.

With a chance at redemption, the 25-year-old hardly needed a reminder on late-race procedures.

In his return to Daytona International Speedeway, a little over four months after a late-race gaffe in the season-opening Daytona 500 cost him what would have been a life-changing victory, Ragan stayed calm when he found himself out front on the final restart of Saturday night’s race.

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With teammate Matt Kenseth on his bumper, their spotter tried to warn Ragan to stay in his lane on the restart, the error he made that led to his crushing penalty in February.

“I was on Matt Kenseth’s radio that last restart and his spotter mentioned it, and I said ‘You don’t have to tell me, so don’t even say it,’” Ragan said. “That kind of lightened the mood. Everyone was so tense there at the end.”

Kenseth pushed Ragan for the final two laps as Ragan cruised to his first career Sprint Cup win in 163 starts.

“I told him, ‘I’m not going to leave you and try to pass you,’” said Kenseth, “because I knew that one of us weren’t going to win. So that was a plan to work as a team all night and it just so happened he was in front at the end. Both of us were kind of unselfish all night and worked together really well.”