Power Rankings: Ragan delivers at the right time

by | Special to CBSSports.com
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Updated July 4

The United States unemployment rate continues to soar with thousands of Americans unfortunately looking for work.

But thanks to his performance Saturday night in Daytona, David Ragan might not have to worry about joining the ranks of the unemployed.

Ragan's win in the Coke Zero 400 might just be enough to keep the Georgia driver behind the wheel in the Sprint Cup Series for years to come.

Rumored to be basically racing for his job in recent weeks as Roush Fenway Racing eyed its future, Ragan responded at the perfect time with his first career series victory.

Ragan couldn't help but feel a sense of relief when he rolled into Victory Lane but was quick to point out there's still more work to be done.

"Now that we've got this win, it lets a lot of pressure off in some sense," he said. "We finally got our first win at a points race here at Daytona. We've got a chance to make the Chase. But now there is even more pressure to go out and stay in that top 20 in points, to perform well at these upcoming races."

To his credit, team owner Jack Roush has stuck by Ragan through the ups and downs, which were compounded by the uncertainty surrounding team sponsor UPS. Whether the company returns to back the RFR No. 6 next season remains to be seen, but Roush believes Ragan's win Saturday will certainly help the cause.

"Certainly we're hopeful that UPS will carry on in a meaningful regard with the sponsorship of the 6 car," Roush said. "Now that we are in negotiation, we don't have assurance that that's going to be the case. But David has arrived at the upper echelon. He's a winner now. And he's given a win to UPS, and hopefully they'll consider that as they think about the value of the program and what it means to all their employees and what it means to their customers to have this association."

While the team's sponsorship may still be undecided, Roush's support of Ragan is stronger than ever thanks to Saturday night's performance.

"It certainly means a lot to us," Roush said. "But to finally have David in the winner's column is a really big thing for us. He's had several poles this year and been close a number of times.

"We've been snakebitten with this last five laps where the caution comes out. You take two tires, no tires, gas only, stay on the racetrack, and all of our programs have not done as well as some of the others in making that judgment. We let several of them get away, but happily we've got this one landed and it's something that UPS will think about when they make their determination on what they'll do next year."

The good news for Ragan is there are now strong indications that for him there will be a next year.

POWER RANKINGS
CurrentDriverPrevious
1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.
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