Jacquelyn Butler Wins Inaugural Better Half Dash
Jacquelyn Butler has spent five years watching her boyfriend NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan race, so it should come as no surprise that she was the class of the field Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, claiming the historic title of inaugural Better Half Dash Champion.
“That was crazy,” Butler said from the frontstretch victory celebration, which was complete with a trophy presentation, interviews and a champagne shower. “That was fun. I’m ready to go out and do it again next week.”
Trisha Mears finished second, Ashley Allgaier third, Patricia Driscoll fourth and SPEED TV personality Wendy Venturini fifth.
Allgaier, wife of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier, started inside row two, took the lead at the start of the race and led 17 laps, more than any other driver. As the laps ticked off, she slipped back in the field.
“I know, rub it in,” Allgaier said. “While I was out front, I was just thinking, ‘Hit my marks, hit my marks.’
After that caution, we had 10 laps to go, and every time I’d drive down in the corner, it would start to spin out or I’m going straight to the wall. So I’m going to blame it on the tires getting too hot.”
Butler saw Allgaier start to slip and took advantage. With eight laps to go, Butler inched closer and closer until she slipped underneath Allgaier at the exit of Turn 2.
“She had a lot of pressure on her,” Ragan said. “She’s been coming out to the Summer Shootout (Legend Car races at Charlotte Motor Speedway) for a long time. I guess all those days coming out and watching me race paid off today.”
So did the extensive Ragan stable of Legend Car experience and expertise. Consider the resources at her disposal:
• David Ragan, former Legend Car and Bandolero champion, current Sprint Cup driver
• Brett Ragan, cousin of David, former Legend Car and Bandolero champion
• Chris Dilbeck, friend of David and Brett Ragan, former Legend Car and Bandolero champion
• Ken Ragan, former 600 Racing director, former Legend Car of Georgia director, former Sprint Cup racer
In the end, it was Butler who had to absorb all of that knowledge and race the car. And she made her coaches proud.
“She did a good job,” David Ragan said. “They were real competitive, those first three or four cars. It was tough to come out here in front of a big audience. It was a lot of pressure; we’ve all been talking it up. But it’s good to see that No. 6 on top of the pylon.”
The beginning of the race was slowed by five cautions in the first four laps before the ladies found a rhythm and strung together a long green-flag period. Mears, wife of Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears, said all those cautions and restarts actually helped her, advancing her from 10th all the way up to third by the fifth lap.
“I definitely got lucky today, just staying out of the way of all the spinning cars,” said Mears.
All three wives expressed a newfound understanding of their significant others’ lives after Saturday’s race, and all three were ready to go racing again.
Better Half Dash Finishing Order
1. Jacquelyn Butler (David Ragan)
2. Trisha Mears (Casey Mears)
3. Ashley Allgaier (Justin Allgaier)
4. Patricia Driscoll (Kurt Busch)
5. Wendy Venturini (Speed Network)
6. Beth Baldwin (Tommy Baldwin)
7. Sabrina Simpson (Joey Logano)
8. Jami McDowell (Michael McDowell)
9. Michelle Gilliland (David Gilliland)
10. Kristen Yeley (J.J. Yeley)
11. Nan Zipadelli (Greg Zipadelli)
12. Angie Skinner (Mike Skinner)
13. Shannon Koch (Blake Koch)
14. Melanie Self (Motor Racing Outreach)