Atlanta II: Ragan - Ford Saturday interview

David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, calls Atlanta Motor Speedway his home track and even though he will be starting 37th in tomorrow's race, he's optimistic about a good finish. QUALIFYING DIDN'T GO AS WELL AS YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED,...

David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, calls Atlanta Motor Speedway his home track and even though he will be starting 37th in tomorrow's race, he's optimistic about a good finish.

QUALIFYING DIDN'T GO AS WELL AS YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE UP TO SPEED IN PRACTICE. "Yeah, I feel like our AAA Ford Fusion is pretty good. It's one of our better downforce cars. We've got some top 15s with it and some good finishes. I just didn't get a good lap in last night. When you're just running one lap, if you mess up any bit at a momentum track like Atlanta, you just lose everything. I really felt like we could have qualified in the top 20 or top 25, but I just got loose getting down into one and had to roll out of the throttle too long and just didn't get that good lap in. But I feel like our car is pretty comfortable this morning. The next practice is gonna be a little more like race conditions. It's pretty cool now and I guess it's gonna pretty much stay this way until tomorrow, so I think our car is not too bad."

CARL EDWARDS BROKE THROUGH AND WON HIS FIRST CUP RACE HERE TWO YEARS AGO FROM OUT OF THE BLUE. COULD YOU BE NEXT? "Yeah, this would be an awesome track to win at and I feel like you just have to be up toward the front at the end. This is a multi-groove race track where, if your car is a little tight or a little loose, you can move around and compensate for it. So that might be the perfect recipe for us on the AAA team to find Victory Lane. I think some of these other guys can get their cars driving a little bit better just because they know what they want and they know how to get there, whereas we're still learning. I feel like if it's a track where we can move around and our car didn't have to be perfect to win the race, we'd have a chance. I've got to do the right things. Our pit stops have to be good and we have to be in the top 10, top 15 that last 50 laps. Certainly, I feel like we've got as good a shot as any, and over the next four races I hope we can squeeze out another top five or top 10 run and contend for a win."

MATT KENSETH SAID YESTERDAY HE HAS BEEN IMPRESSED WITH YOUR PROGRESS AND THAT YOU'VE GAINED A LOT OF RESPECT. HAS THAT BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT THIS YEAR? "Yeah, I think getting the respect and not being involved in these crazy wrecks and making a lot of people mad has been a sign of big progress. The racer in me, I really wanted to get some more top fives and contend for a win this year. I know that this is a tough series and a champion like Matt Kenseth winning only one race just shows you how tough it is. I'm a little disappointed. I wish we could have had some more top 10s and top fives and maybe a pole or something like that and I would be a little more comfortable, but as far as getting respect and just trying to take care of my race car and finish these races means a lot. Next year it's gonna be a lot easier racing hard and racing in the comfort zone and going fast. It's great to have someone like Matt say some good things and I feel like he's helped me out a lot, and all the guys as far as the crew chiefs and engineers, I feel I can go and talk to them and they can help me with different things. Then it's ultimately up to me to make that right decision."

HAVE ANY VETERANS LIKE TONY STEWART OR JIMMIE JOHNSON TALKED TO YOU ABOUT HOW YOU'RE DOING AND GIVEN YOU ENCOURAGEMENT? "Yeah, it's good to have guys like that come up and say a thing or two to you. Being a part of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, that's a good time to hang out with some of the veterans. Everybody has their busy schedule and some weekends you might not say a word to some of the guys and sometimes you might talk a lot to them. But for guys like Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, just to be able to talk to them a little bit helps. Certainly, I don't want to be in there bothering them or asking a bunch of questions, but it's good just for them to recognize you and speak a few words to you. This is really only my second year in the sport. I haven't had a couple years of trucks and a couple years of Busch, so I'm still pretty new to everybody, but it's been fun and I feel like next year we're really gonna come out of the box strong and things are gonna be a lot easier for us."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , David Ragan