NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Georgia-native David Ragan claimed victory in the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150 on Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his first win at the track since his days as a youth racing Legends cars.
Ragan led 129-of-150 laps to capture a dominating victory in the super late model race on Atlanta Motor Speedway's quarter-mile "Thunder Ring," located on the track's frontstretch. Ragan, a native of Unadilla, exuberantly climbed from the car to a roaring hometown crowd to celebrate.
"I knew we would have to pass a few cars to get up there and I once I got to the lead, I was just trying to maintain my times and take care of my brakes," said Ragan. "It's an honor to win anything at a track like this. It's great to come back home to Atlanta Motor Speedway and start the weekend off good."
Ragan, who will compete at his home track in the Sunday Emory Healthcare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race at 7:30 p.m., last won in Atlanta in his final season racing Legends cars in 2000. The Roush Fenway NASCAR driver with nine-career Legends car wins in Atlanta won the pole for the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150, but started fifth after a field inversion.
After taking the lead on lap 14, Ragan led the race through the mid-portion of the event, when Brad Lemley suddenly closed on Ragan to snatch the advantage on lap 88. Lemley, 16th in points for the sanctioning Southern Superstars Short Track Series, immediately grew his advantage to a few car lengths, but a debris caution on lap 93 would erase Lemley's lead.
Diving to the inside on a lap 94 restart, Ragan reclaimed the lead as he, Lemley and Jeff Letson battled three-wide down the frontstretch. Contact between Letson and Lemley in Turn One would send Lemley to the fourth position, while Ragan shot ahead of Letson in second.
But just as Ragan built his lead to six car lengths, a spin would bring out another caution and regroup the field on lap 109.
Ragan again proved superior on the restart, jumping to a multi-car length lead while Letson and Lemley battled in second and third, respectively. Jockeying for position for 10 laps, Lemley finally retook third place, but the contest allowed Ragan to build an impressive 10-length lead. However, consecutive cautions on lap 127 and 129 would yet again return the leader within the reach of the field.
Again proving superior on the restart, Ragan quickly pulled away from second-place Lemley and reestablished his 10-length advantage by lap 138, but a late-race collision clustered the field for a final green, white and checkered-flag finish. Shooting ahead on the restart again, Ragan sped to the victory and celebrated in front of a hometown crowd with a frontstretch burnout.
"It's like coming back 10 or 12 years ago racing Legends stuff again," said Ragan's cousin and crew chief Brett Ragan, who drove to eight Legends wins in three Thursday Thunder seasons in Atlanta. "All in all, it was a good night and it makes it that much better to do it in Atlanta."
Night racing continues at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, as the stars of NASCAR's Nationwide Series compete under the lights in the Great Clips 300 at 7:00 p.m. Saturday's action also includes Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series qualifying, plus free fan events in the Display Lot and on the Coca-Cola Fan Stage. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visitwww.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150 Results:
1. David Ragan (Unadilla)
2. Jeff Letson (Madison, Ala.)
3. Brad Lemley (Grant, Ala.)
4. Mark Day (Clarksville, Tenn.)
5. Lee Hansard (Tyrone)
6. Jonathan Storms (Corbin, Ky.)
7. Chase Spradlin (Oak Grove, Ala.)
8. John Henegan, Jr. (Scottsboro, Ala.)
9. Chase Oliver (Crossville, Ala.)
10. Matt Leicht (Arden, N.C.)
11. Chris Dilbeck (Hampton)
12. Bobby Castleberry (Rossville)