DAVID RAGAN -- No.6 UPS Ford Fusion HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO THE NEW CAR AND THE WAY IT FEELS? HAS IT GOTTEN LOOSER? "I think from my first experience in one of the COT cars you could get it however you wanted it, it was either uncontrollably...
DAVID RAGAN -- No.6 UPS Ford Fusion
HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO THE NEW CAR AND THE WAY IT FEELS? HAS IT GOTTEN LOOSER? "I think from my first experience in one of the COT cars you could get it however you wanted it, it was either uncontrollably loose or uncontrollably tight and I guess more people are comfortable with it tight and that's what they choose to do. I think the development is still going on to get a better handling car, but I don't really know how the old cars drove, so I don't have a good history to base my opinion on, but I feel like we've had some races last year that our car was perfect and I couldn't ask for anymore. It was very comfortable and easy to drive, and then we had some races that it was dramatically loose and tight, but that's the way any race car is with a hard tire and when you're going that fast. I think if you've got a super late model on soft tires, certainly that's real easy to drive, but it is what it is. I don't necessarily think about how the car is in general, I just know what we have to work with and how good of a job we're doing."
IS THE BATTLE GETTING GOOD FORWARD BITE OFF THE CORNER? "It depends on what race track you're at. Yes, at some race tracks that is a problem, but at others it's not a concern at all. I think anytime you have a 3400-3500 pound race car with 800-plus horsepower that's gonna be an issue. We've made good strides with our Fords to handle better and we don't really pay attention to one issue, we try to work around everything."
HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH INCREASED EXPECTATIONS THIS YEAR? "I've thought about that a little bit and certainly in years past no one really mentioned anything or didn't expect us to do well, so I think the last two years we've done what we expected to do, and I think in the upcoming season we expect to do a little bit more. It's neat to see that we're getting a little bit of good press and people are talking about us more than in years past, but we've got our focus on our goals and that's the same thing we've done the last two years. I don't think it's gonna affect us any. We know that we're capable of winning races, we're capable of making the chase. We've got good race cars and it's all about me being a smart race car driver and not making mistakes and having a little bit of luck along the way. We know what we can do and it's just a matter of going out and doing it."
IT'S GOING TO BE HARDER FOR FANS TO COME TO THE TRACK AND BUY MERCHANDISE AND SUCH. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE TO TRY AND DO MORE TO SHOW APPRECIATION FOR THE FANS? "I think the track owners and promoters and everyone who runs the catering at the race track, they can certainly come off the prices some. I think it's absolutely ridiculous at any professional sporting event you go to that a hot dog and a Coca-Cola is probably $10 or $12 bucks. That's absolutely absurd. I think the last four or five years we've all been fortunate and money has been flowing a little more freely than it is today and people have paid that because they were forced to pay it. I think the tracks will realize that they can't continue to rip people off like that, so I think they're gonna be forced to drop the prices a little bit. I think that's the fair thing to do and that's what they should have done in years past, but I think they'll see that. I don't know whether it cost them 50 cents or a dollar for that hot dog and they mark it up 300% or 400%, that's not a good way to do business. They've gotten by with it in the past and that's just not in motorsports, that's at an NBA basketball game or an NFL game. They're just gonna have to come off their prices a little bit and it's not gonna hurt them any. Hopefully, I'll see that and hopefully the fans put their opinion in and they can see some things happen because it's great to see hundreds of thousands of people in the stands watching you, but you don't want them to be so upset that they have to pay a crazy amount for a ticket and a hot dog at a race to just come and have a good time."
FANS HAVE HAD TO TIGHTEN THEIR BELT STRAPS. WHAT ABOUT YOU AS A DRIVER? "I think I've lived a modest life my whole life and I think that I had good parents who raised me to live within my means and whatever kind of money that you make, you live within your means. You don't do extravagant things just because your next door neighbor is doing them. I still drive my 1997 Ford Ranger everyday that get over 20 miles to the gallon, so I haven't really had to change my ways any at all. Certainly, I'm very fortunate to have a good job with Roush Fenway Racing, but I don't live outside my means. I do what's right. I eat at my mom and dad's house most every night of the week, so you don't see me splurging and doing different things. I don't have a helicopter or an airplane or a yacht to sell, so I guess I'm not worried about it."
WHERE DID YOU LEARN THAT HUMILITY? "Going into Cup at an early age will humble you very quick. We grew up and we had a lot of fast Legends cars and Late Models and ARCA cars and we were fortunate to have smart people working on our cars and we could go and run fast. When you get to Sprint Cup racing, everyone has fast cars, everyone has good people working on their cars and everyone has nice engines and nice race cars, so you realize how tough this sport really is and I think every driver finds that out when they get here. You just have to make provisions. You have to work harder and that's what makes Sprint Cup racing the best motorsports in the world."
IS EVERY RACE AN ADVENTURE? "Oh yeah. It's an adventure getting to the race track. It's an adventure of once I get there that racing is something if I didn't have thirty-something races to run a year, I don't know what I would do. It's a blast to get to work with the race teams in the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series just about every weekend. It's always a challenge. You're always trying to get your car to drive better, you're trying to get it faster, you're trying to win a race, but it's fun. You get to interact with the race fans and just everything about this sport is a blast every weekend."
-credit: ford racing