David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, continues to creep closer to that 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With only two races remaining before the cutoff, Ragan sits only 12 points behind Clint Bowyer for the final...
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, continues to creep closer to that 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With only two races remaining before the cutoff, Ragan sits only 12 points behind Clint Bowyer for the final transfer position. Ragan spoke about his chances during a press conference Friday morning at California Speedway.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND? "Two more races to go and we've always seemed to run pretty well here at the Auto Club Speedway. The track is similar to Michigan, we ran well here in the spring, so this is a track that we kind of look forward to coming to. I feel like that if we just go out and not make many mistakes -- kind of like our whole year -- if we don't hurt ourselves, I think we'll be fine when they drop the checkered flag on Sunday."
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED ON AND OFF THE TRACK WHEN YOU CAME INTO THIS SPORT AT 18-19-20? "On the track, my difficult was probably my confidence overshadowed my experience. I felt like I could go out and be Superman and qualify on the pole and lead every lap and win the race, and I hit realty pretty quick. All of these guys are pretty good racers. You can go out and practice and test and be as fast as you want, but when you put yourself on a race track with 42 other drivers, that's what makes it a little tougher than what it seems to be. So learning like that and learning the importance of having quality experienced people on the pit box making calls, good guys working in the race shop, that goes a long way. I think that the major part of our success this year has been because of the experience of Jimmy Fennig and Jack Roush putting key people in the right places to help me. Certainly, I'm not experienced enough to make all the calls on a given race weekend and those guys really help out a lot, so just probably coming into this sport and being accustomed to winning a lot and being fast wherever we go and then showing up to a few tracks and really struggled. I really had to stay motivated and keep a good work ethic to try to continue to get better and learn, so I just have a never give up attitude. The off track stuff, dealing with a couple different sponsors and staying on the road wasn't the hard part. I seem to be able to communicate with people and work with the fans and the sponsors pretty well and seem to have a good time doing it. It was just the transition between the three different series and working with our crew chiefs and engineers and trying to get the most out of the car on a given weekend."
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS AFTER WATKINS GLEN AS FAR AS MAKING THE CHASE? "After Watkins Glen I knew it would be a tougher road ahead of us. Obviously, if we could have had a top-15 finish at Watkins Glen, we'd be sitting in 12th right now, but I knew the guys we were racing weren't great road course racers with Bowyer and Kahne and some of those guys that were right around us in the mix, so basically we just had to get out of Watkins Glen without losing a ton of points and I think we did that. I think we were still within 100 after Watkins Glen and then basically we knew that top-5s and top-10s were what was going to get us in the chase, and DNFs and 25ths and 30th-place finishes are what's going to keep us out of it. It's as simple as that. We just try to be the best we can every weekend and the points are going to take care of themselves. The guys like Bowyer and Kahne and Denny Hamlin and those guys are gonna be fast and it's gonna be the same thing for them. They can't have many mistakes. I think the car in the next two weeks that clicks off two top-5 finishes or two top-10 finishes are gonna be in the chase and someone's gonna have that bad race or a tough-luck deal getting caught in the pits on a green flag stop or something kind of freakish like that and find themselves 25th looking on the outside."
HOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT IS YOUR JOB THESE LAST TWO RACES KNOWING YOU CAN'T AFFORD ANY MISTAKES? "I think it makes it a little bit more difficult, but I try to have that mindset every single race of the year and, certainly, if you put a lot more focus and effort and try to really think about this race too much, you'll probably go out and make a mistake if you're driving on pins and needles the whole 500 laps or 500 miles, so I think the biggest thing is just to go out and do what you've been doing and, certainly, maybe be a little extra cautious passing a lapped car on a restart or something like that, but, for the most part, you just have to race and everything is gonna happen for a reason. If we don't make the chase, it's not gonna be because of these last two races. I can pick out five races from Daytona to this point now that we didn't do some things right, so these last two races aren't gonna be the 100 percent reason if we're in or if we're out, it's gonna be a combination of a lot of things since Daytona in February. So you just have to go and do what you've been doing. If you drive yourself crazy trying not to make that mistake, you're probably gonna slip up and make that mistake."
HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN BANDOLERO CARS HELPED YOU AT ALL WITH THIS NEW CAR? "Yeah, I think so. Certainly myself and Logano and Reed (Sorenson) and both the Busch brothers -- there have been a lot of drivers come through the Legends car ranks and I think you'll continue to see that in the next 5-10 years to come and I think Humpy Wheeler was the number one reason that that's the case. He put a car together that was gonna make it tough on the driver. The things aren't gonna drive good. They have more horsepower than what the tire wants to hook up. The tires are hard. They're built to go straight, kind of like our COT car, it's built to go straight and not turn left, so you just have to drive it the best you can. It's never gonna be perfect and I think that's the situation we have now. The guy who wins this race on Sunday, there car is not gonna be perfect. There are gonna be some problems with it, but he just has that never give up attitude and he's able to hang on the longest and try not to make that mistake."
AFTER SUNDAY'S RACE YOU WILL KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AT RICHMOND. WILL YOU PAY MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT THEY GUYS AROUND YOU IN THE STANDINGS ARE DOING ON THE TRACK OR MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THAT? "I don't think I'll be making those decisions. I think Jimmy Fennig will be making those on top of the pit box or Jack Roush. After we leave here and if we're in 12th or 13th or whatever the case may be, we'll know what kind of spots we have to be ahead of a certain guy and maybe talk to some of the guys who have been in this situation before. I know my teammate, McMurray, a few years ago was kind of in this situation or talk to Mark and I'm sure Jimmy and Jack and our engineer will be able to have all kinds of equations and stuff figured out for us to be in front of this guy or be behind this guy and what we have to do. The bottom line is everybody's gonna be driving as hard as they can to try to win the race, to try to get a good finish. Yeah, you might have a little pit strategy or something that you can do, but it's gonna be exciting and hopefully we can come out of this race weekend where all we have to do is get a nice, comfortable top-10 or top-5 and we'll see what happens."
-credit: ford racing