David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is tied with Clint Bowyer for 13th-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, only 26 points behind 12th-place Denny Hamlin for the 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint...
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is tied with Clint Bowyer for 13th-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, only 26 points behind 12th-place Denny Hamlin for the 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Ragan held a press conference in the Bristol Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss his chase chances.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING CLOSE TO GETTING IN THE CHASE? "I think we've got as good a shot at getting in as any of the guys in the top 12 to 14. We knew coming into this season that we would have the speed and we would have the team with the experience that we could be at this point at this time of the year, but we just had to make sure that we didn't make any crazy mistakes along the way that would have kept us out. We have made a few mistakes. If I could go back a few races, I think we would comfortably in the top 10, but the bottom line is we've had good speed, we've had good fortune, we haven't made many mistakes this year. Our whole program is just a little better from Friday to Sunday -- to the completion of the race we've just been a little stronger where we seem to hit our marks on a regular basis. Everything is easier the second time around and we're happy to be in this position. We've got three more races to go. It's not over yet. There's a lot of excitement to go and hopefully we can outlast everybody else and get in the chase."
LAST YEAR IN THIS RACE YOU STRUGGLED. WAS THAT YOUR LOWEST POINT? "Yeah, it was pretty low because we qualified fourth and we ran in the top five the first 110 laps until we had a caution and then dropped from there. We had a right-front tire come loose and had to pit under green and lost all of our track position and seemed to lose focus. I think the transmission was popping out of gear and it was just one of those long nights where we were great to start with -- a good qualifying effort -- and then went down the drain pretty quick. It was certainly disappointing. This is one of my favorite race tracks, a lot of great race fans and good racing here and it's a place you always dream well about running well at and we had a car that was capable of running it the top five, if not winning, so that was disappointing. Then we backed it up with a few strong runs after this race, so I think this is a race where anything can happen. We just have to be aggressive. I think we'll have good speed, I just have to drive a smart race."
ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING TO COPE WITH THE CHASE STRESS? "No, not really. I've had a lot of people ask me what am I gonna do, am I gonna take it easy or do things different the next few weeks, and I think we just need to keep doing what we've been doing. I was in Milwaukee Tuesday and Wednesday racing. I flew back home late Wednesday night and drove up here for two appearances yesterday and go to Martinsville next week to test the Nationwide car and go back to Milwaukee on Tuesday, so I think we're just gonna keep doing what we've been doing -- staying busy and staying in the seat. It's good to think about the chase, it's good to think about points and it's good to be prepared, but it's not good to worry yourself and get your team on pins and needles leading into the final three races. Whatever happens is gonna happen -- just go out and do the best you can and we'll have to live with it."
YOU'VE BEEN MORE AGGRESSIVE THE LAST FEW WEEKS. DO YOU AGREE? "As you get more aggressive you better have some experience to back it up. I think I tried to be aggressive my first few starts in this series and I didn't have the experience to back it up and I looked like a fool, so now I've got the experience to back it up. I've obviously got better car control and a better feel for what I need in the race car to go fast, and probably have a little bit more respect from the competitors out on the race track and everything is just a little easier. When you have all those things, you can afford to be more aggressive when you know what's gonna happen, whereas before if you tried to be aggressive and you don't know what you're doing, you usually wind up getting yourself in trouble."
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Sharpie 500 Advance, Page 2
August 22, 2008 Bristol Motor Speedway
DAVID RAGAN CONTINUED -- IS THERE A FURTHER TRANSITION AS FAR AS GETTING TO A POINT WHERE YOU'RE RIGHT THERE FOR A WIN? "Yeah, I mean I learned the hard way. You hear a lot of people say you have to be around at the end to be in contention for a good finish and I think the biggest thing that we've thought about this year -- and obviously we're thinking about winning and what we need to do to get into Victory Lane -- do we need to do anything different at the end of the race -- and I think we've found out through good and bad experience that you just have to put yourself in contention and things are gonna happen for a reason. As long as we just cruise around in that top 10 or top 5 for a majority of the race, you never know what can happen, you might get an opportunity to make a good pit decision or you might get that good set of tires toward the end of the race and it might be a race-changing move. I don't know if I'm answering your question or not, but you just have to be in contention the whole race and then your last fuel run or your last 30 or 40 laps, that's when you can take a few more chances and take a few more risks based on what you learned throughout the race."
BUT A LOT OF IT IS TRACK POSITION. "Oh, 100 percent. Track position is everything. You've got to have a car that's capable of running fast at the end of the race. You can't have a car that's beaten and banged up. Even if you were a top-five car and qualified on the pole, that doesn't mean anything 300 laps into this thing. Again, that was a prime example of us last year. We had a great car and we didn't have a car to run at the end of the race. So, yeah, before I'd probably get upset and get nervous and started driving over my head if we qualified good and we fell back to 10th, but I don't get too stressed out about that anymore. I just kind of wait for the next pit stop. You're gonna have ample amounts of opportunities to adjust on your race car and you're gonna have plenty of opportunities to make up positions that you gained or lost throughout the course of a run, so some things like you just learn from good and bad experiences."
WAS THERE A POINT LAST YEAR WHEN YOU WORRIED ABOUT YOUR JOB? "I feel like every race I'm getting ready to be cut loose almost. I never have that false sense of job security. I think a lot of guys get in trouble and you feel like you can be here forever and I feel like going into this weekend if I don't perform right, if I don't get the job done, if I make mental mistakes, I'm gonna be on that border line, so I kind of have that feel every weekend. Certainly last year, yeah, you had that, but Jack Roush stood behind me and the Roush Fenway team -- the guys back at the shop and Jimmy Fennig -- we would struggle for a while, but then we'd bounce right back and have some top 10s and top 15s and have a fast car. We knew it was around the corner, we just had to make good decisions and try to make laps and try not to make mistakes. But I still have that same feel. I feel like that I'm not irreplaceable, that I can mess up for a few weeks in a row and I'll be on the hot seat, so as long as I have that attitude, I feel like I'll always be driving as hard as I can and trying to put my best foot forward." KYLE BUSCH SAID HE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO EACH TRACK JUST ONCE. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE SCHEDULE? "I think the schedule is good. Obviously, I'm a young kid. I'm not married, I don't have any kids and I think I'm gonna try to race 100 races this year between my Nationwide car, my Cup car, I run a few Legends races, some dirt car races and try to run some road course races over the winter and see if I can't get in 100 races this year. I think that would be pretty cool. At the end of the year when we leave Homestead, I'm gonna be at about 86, so I'm gonna have I think about 15 races to do between Homestead and the end of December, but I think the schedule is good. I like coming back to tracks for a second time, it gives us a second challenge. When we come here in the spring, it's usually raining and snowing and freezing cold and it's always hot here in the winter, so I like coming back to tracks like this for a second time. It's a different situation. California is the same thing. I think there are some tracks, I'd love to go to Daytona five times a year, so I think the schedule is fine. I think it's a good mix. I think the races are laid out in a good flow and I'm just happy to be a part of the show."
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE JOEY LOGANO FOR NEXT YEAR? "Probably just learn all you can from Tony and that situation right now. Certainly, that's a strong team and a strong group to be around, and make sure that he learns all that he can right now watching them race and listening to them during practice. I wish I would have had that in the 2006 season, back where I could have gone to all the Cup races with Mark and been around him and Pat Tryson. I certainly feel like I would have learned a little more, so I would encourage him just to follow in Tony's footsteps and watch what they do for the remainder of the season and get with Zipadelli and make sure they're on the same page, but Joey's got a tremendous amount of talent. Obviously, he's got a lot of experience this year. He's probably got just as much COT experience as any of us because he's been driving and testing them for the same amount of time that we have, so he'll be fine, but I would just say to learn all you can this year from Tony and those guys because they've got a pretty good program going on."
IS THERE ONE DRIVER ON THE BUBBLE THAT YOU DIDN'T THINK WOULD BE THERE AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? "No. They're all proven winners and proven fast guys. You look at the 11 car and they've kind of had an up-and-down season. He's been very, very strong a few weeks, but then he struggles a few weeks. I think the same with Harvick and Bowyer, they've had fast cars some weeks, but then other weeks they really seem to struggle. Those are some of the things that I look at and I think that we can capitalize on some of those weeks where they may not be on their game, but, at the same time, they have the experience and they have the teams to overcome difficulties like that. I think we're part of that same situation. We've had good speed. We've been strong on some weekends and we haven't been on others, and that's where we kind of have to clean up our act on those few off weekends and we can be right where we need to be."
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU BECOME COMFORTABLE AND CONFIDENT IN THIS GARAGE AREA? "I think I've always had a lot of confidence, like I talked about earlier, I had a lot of confidence, but I didn't have the experience to back anything up. I was just kind of out there free-wheeling running wild at times. Going back to some tracks, Daytona, for instance, has been a good track for us from the get-go, and being able to go back in a different race and performing well again shows you that the first time around wasn't a fluke and I think we can do this on a regular basis. Certainly, after a couple of good top fives in a row -- Darlington, I think, was a big weekend for us to finish in the top five there and that was a long, tough race last year, and it was a tough race this year. Coming out of Darlington and saying that this is one of the toughest tracks on the schedule and we kind of conquered the place tonight, I think that we can do it anywhere if we don't make mistakes and we make sure that we're doing the right things. So just a few runs like that certainly helps you, but then you face reality when you go to another track where you've run great at and you run 25th, so it kind of bounces back and forth, but I think you always remember those good nights and remember that you can do it week-in and week-out if you just do what's right."
-credit: ford motorsports