Daytona Beach, Fla. David Ragan earned the first Sprint Cup victory of his career Saturday night with a push from teammate Matt Kenseth that helped Ragan atone for one of the biggest gaffe’s of his young career.
He might have won the season-opening Daytona 500 when he lined up as the leader on a late restart in NASCAR’s season-opening event. But he was penalized for passing too early, and the life-changing victory instead went to Trevor Bayne.
Now Ragan has his own win at Daytona International Speedway, albeit in the lesser of the races. That made little difference to the 25-year-old second-generation NASCAR driver.
“Everybody kept talking about (the Daytona 500), I just kept trying to zero it out,” Ragan said.
Ragan could now find himself in contention for a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The win pushed Ragan to 17th in the standings, and two spots in the Chase will go to the winningest drivers ranked between 11 and 20.
“Not a better night to win. This is awesome,” Ragan said.
Kenseth finished second to give Roush Fenway Racing a 1-2 sweep for Ford.
Joey Logano, who won his first Daytona race Friday night with a Nationwide Series victory, finished third in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kasey Kahne was fourth in a Toyota for Red Bull Racing and Kyle Busch was fifth for JGR.
Jeff Gordon made a terrific late-race save to avoid a race-ending wreck and finished sixth in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.