NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
     === The Inside Line: Front Row Motorsports relishing Talladega win ===
 
 By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - David Ragan proved that just about anybody
 can win at Talladega Superspeedway.
 
 If a driver can avoid being caught up in the big wrecks and be in the thick of
 things during the final lap around this 2.66-mile superspeedway, then he or
 she has a shot of crossing the finish line in first place.
 
 That was indeed the case on Sunday at Talladega.
 
 Ragan avoided the first major accident, involving 16 cars, in the early going
 and then the second big one, claiming 12 cars, in the closing laps. The last
 caution set up a two-lap overtime finish, as darkness approached due to a rain
 delay of 3 hours, 36 minutes earlier in the day.
 
 Heading into the last lap, Ragan ran in the sixth position, while his Front
 Row Motorsports teammate, David Gilliland, was right behind him in seventh.
 Gilliland pushed Ragan on the backstretch before Ragan dipped below Carl
 Edwards and passed him for the lead in turn 3. Gilliland moved into second.
 
 Ragan went on to beat Gilliland to the finish line by 0.2 seconds, while
 Edwards crossed the line in a close third.
 
 "I knew once I came out of turn 4 I had enough steam that I could have made my
 car wide enough that I was going to make it back around to the start-finish
 line," Ragan said. "It's a huge, huge deal for us to be sitting here right
 now, and it makes it even more special to get a one-two finish. Can you
 believe that?"
 
 Edwards, who was attempting to win at Talladega for the first time, said he
 had no idea Ragan and Gilliland were charging through the field the way they
 did on the final lap. Edwards had passed Matt Kenseth for the lead right after
 the restart for the green-white-checkered finish. Kenseth had been dominant
 throughout the race, leading 142 of 192 laps.
 
 "I had a blast, and on the white-flag lap I thought we were going to win it
 until I saw those guys (Ragan and Gilliland) coming, and I thought, 'Who is
 that?' and they were coming," Edwards said. "I blocked as much as I could.
 David did everything but spin me out down the back straightaway. He was all
 over the back bumper. I could feel from the way he was pushing and moving that
 if I turned to stay across his hood and they went one way and I went the other
 that I knew I was going to be on the highlight reel for the wrong reasons."
 
 Edwards was thankful the last lap in this race wasn't a repeat of what
 happened in the 2009 spring event at Talladega, where he crashed spectacularly
 into the catch fence along the front stretch while battling Brad Keselowski
 for
 the win.
 
 Ragan claimed his second career Sprint Cup Series victory. His first win came
 in July 2011 at Daytona, the sister track to Talladega, when he drove for
 Roush Fenway Racing. His Talladega victory also earned him a spot in the May
 18 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte.
 
 "That's a big deal for our team and for our sponsors," he said. "We try to
 sell Front Row Motorsports, and it's tough to sell a team when we run 15th or
 20th or 25th, and we're not battling for a championship. It's tough to do
 that, and it means a lot to be in our all-star event in our sport, which I
 think is the best all-star event in any of the major league sports."
 
 Ragan delivered Front Row Motorsports its first win in NASCAR's premier
 series, which gives the underfunded three-car team a huge boost in securing
 more sponsorship opportunities. Josh Wise, a Nationwide Series regular, also
 drives for the team.
 
 "It will help our program; there's no doubt about that," team owner Bob
 Jenkins said. "My philosophy from the beginning is, in this sport, you have to
 make your own place at the table. Nobody is going to give it to you. I've
 always felt like if we can go out and perform and put out a good product, then
 sponsorship will come, respect will come and hopefully wins will come. That's
 kind of been our attitude all along."
 
 Jenkins' team entered Sprint Cup competition in 2005, and ran a limited
 schedule with many lesser-known drivers during its first four years in the
 series. Gilliland joined the team in 2010, while Ragan came on board two years
 later.
 
 Prior to Ragan's win at Talladega, the best finish for a Front Row Motorsports
 driver in a Cup race was Gilliland's third-place run in the 2011 Daytona 500.
 Ragan gave the team its second top-five finish last October, placing fourth at
 Talladega.
 
 "We've worked really hard at Front Row on our speedway program, because it's a
 great equalizer racing at Daytona and Talladega," said Jay Guy, who serves as
 the crew chief for Ragan's No. 34 Ford. "This is our chance to shine, so we
 always put a little extra effort into these races. Did I think when I woke up
 (Sunday) morning that we were going to be sitting here? No. I thought we had a
 good shot at being in the top 10 solidly. Last year, we finished seventh and
 fourth, but that's last year. You can't live off of what you did yesterday.
 
 "I thought our pit crew has taken a big step forward, and our team has gotten
 stronger as a whole. I thought we had a chance, but to be up here, I'd be
 lying if I said yeah."
 
 Before Talladega, Ragan had finished no better than 20th and Gilliland 23rd
 this season.
 
 "Some day we want to be an organization that can go and compete for wins on a
 weekly basis, but we're not there yet," Gilliland said. "So to be able to come
 to these type of tracks, we definitely put a lot of preparation into and a lot
 of emphasis on our speedway program, and (Sunday), we had two very fast race
 cars, and we were able to come home 1-2."
 
 Currently 26th in the point standings, Ragan's odds of making this year's
 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship are about the same as his chances were
 of winning at Talladega, which were quite slim. But, hey, Daytona's second
 race
 of the season is two months away. If Ragan can win another race and hold a
 top-20 position in points when the regular season concludes on Sept. 7 at
 Richmond, then he has a very good shot of earning one of the two wild card
 positions for the Chase.
 
 Front Row Motorsports would certainly savor that accomplishment.
 
 
 05/06 16:24:02 ET

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