NASCAR: David Ragan steals last-lap victory at Talladega
NASCAR • Push from teammate Gilliland leads to win in rain-delayed, crash-marred race.
Published: May 5, 2013 10:40PM
Updated: May 6, 2013 12:00AM

Talladega, Ala. • A pair of Davids slayed the Goliaths at Talladega Superspeedway.

David Ragan hooked up with teammate David Gilliland in a two-lap overtime sprint, and together they picked off some of the top drivers in NASCAR to drive to the front and push Ragan into Victory Lane.

It was the second career victory for Ragan — he also won at Daytona in July 2011 — and Gilliland finished second for a 1-2 finish for Front Row Motorsports.

“I had a great teammate. David Gilliland gave us a great push. I owe him a lot,” Ragan said. “I’ll definitely buy him lunch this week or something.”

Gilliland wanted the win but was content settling for second on a day his team earned its first career victory.

“What a great day for Front Row Motorsports, an underfunded team coming in here and being able to finish 1-2 is awesome,” Gilliland said. “I’m very proud of David Ragan. I know he would have done the same for me. I had a heck of a run, we were pushing, I was locked to his bumper and I wasn’t going to let him go.”

The race took seven hours to complete after rain stopped it for 3 hours, 36 minutes midway through the event. With darkness quickly closing in, contact between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and J.J. Yeley triggered a frightening crash that sent Kurt Busch’s car airborne and on top of Ryan Newman’s car.

Newman has been in numerous harrowing accidents at Daytona and Talladega, where NASCAR uses restrictor plates to control the speeds, and was sharp with his criticism after exiting the infield care center. He said he only stopped to do a live television interview to criticize cars still being able to go airborne.

“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can’t get their heads out of their [expletive] far enough to keep them on the racetrack, and that’s pretty disappointing,” Newman said. “I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is.”

He also was upset NASCAR continued the race with darkness closing in on the track so quickly.

“That’s no way to end a race,” he said. “That’s just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain. That’s it, thank you.”

NASCAR sent the race into overtime after the final accident for one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, and it seemed as though it might have been Matt Kenseth’s race to win.

He led a race-high 142 laps and was the leader on the final restart but was passed by Carl Edwards on the first lap of overtime. He tried to get the lead back and was battling Edwards with no drafting partner. He never saw the pack coming behind him and, with nowhere to go, fell out of contention in the blink of an eye.

“Carl just got a rocket restart there, and he cleared me down the backstretch,” Kenseth said. “He just got a huge run somehow. I was still second. I thought we still had a shot. I tried to get around Carl but he blocked, which you should. We got real wide getting up there and got pretty far to the top, and I just didn’t watch the runs from the guys way in the back.

“I saw David at the last minute, but he was going too fast. If I pulled in front of him I was just going to get wrecked.”

Standings

Pts. Beh.

1. Johnson 383 —

2. Edwards 342 -41

3. Earnhardt 324 -59

4. Bowyer 316 -67

5. Keselowski 314 -69

6. Kahne 299 -84

7. Almirola 293 -90

8. Menard 290 -93

9. Kyle Busch 285 -98

10. Kenseth 280 -103

11. Biffle 280 -103

12. Harvick 276 -107