Michigan: Ragan - Ford interview 2009-06-09

This Week in Ford Racing: David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, will be one of the many NASCAR and NHRA Ford Racing drivers who will visit Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters on Thursday before racing this weekend in ...

This Week in Ford Racing:

David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, will be one of the many NASCAR and NHRA Ford Racing drivers who will visit Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters on Thursday before racing this weekend in the manufacturer's "backyard" at Michigan International Speedway. Two Ford teams, Wood Brothers Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, are 1-2 in all-time victories at MIS with 11 and 10, respectively. Ragan, after finishing in 13th place and just missing the Chase in 2008, has struggled so far in 2009. However, in April, he won a Nationwide race at Talladega for his first-ever NASCAR victory.

WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED RACING IN THIS SERIES, DID YOU HAVE A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE IMPORTANCE TO THE MICHIGAN RACE AS FAR AS THE MANUFACTURERS ARE CONCERNED? "Not as a real young kid. I looked at Daytona and Charlotte, even Atlanta - those were the big races from where I was watching. But as I got older and learned more about what the manufacturers, their role in the sport, and certainly our team owner, Jack Roush, his business, his life, his whole career has been based around Ford and Roush Industries and now Roush Fenway Racing. That's one of our Daytona 500s, going to Michigan, and Jack has been very successful there. So, as a Ford driver and as a Roush Fenway driver, it's always a lot of fun to go to Michigan, because we know we're going to be fast, we know that we're going to be competitive, and then also we're in Jack's backyard, so we get a chance to meet a lot of neat people."

IT PROBABLY DIDN'T TAKE BUT ONE RACE AT MICHIGAN TO REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT IT IS. "The first time that you realize how important everything is, is the first time that you go down to Livonia (Michigan) and see his spread there on Market Street. I think he's got about every building on Market Street. Then you go to his museum, his old race shop, and you see the amount of people that come out for the autograph session on Thursday evening, and it's the first time that you realize that, 'Hey, this is really big deal. This isn't just Jack's got a little office here or something, he's got a lot of stuff going on.' We go to Ford Headquarters. I'm a history buff; I love going to the Henry Ford Museum, so a lot of those things associated with the Michigan race weekend make it a fun weekend."

YOU'LL VISIT FORD WORLD HEADQUARTERS PRIOR TO THE WEEKEND'S RACE. WITH WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE ECONOMY, DOES THIS TRIP TAKE ON ADDED SIGNIFICANCE NOW? "Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I think we're all interested in seeing what the attitude is like at Ford and what everyone is saying. From the outside looking in, Ford's the strongest auto manufacturer, in my eyes right now, they've got a lot of good cars and lot of smart people making some good decision, so we're all looking forward to going, to learn and get a little insight on what's going on, but also to see some of the new products coming out. And, it's really fortunate that Ford has still asked us to come up, and they've probably got a lot more business-type stuff going on, but it's good to have a day to spend with the NASCAR guys that are Ford related, and get to see what they're experiencing every day."

ROUSH FENWAY RACING HAS ENJOYED PLENTY OF SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN OVER THE YEARS. CAN YOU POINT TO SOME OF THE REASONS WHY? "I think our organization focuses on the majority-type race tracks, and it is that mile-and-a-half-, two-mile fast track, you know, like Michigan, California, even Charlotte, Kansas, Vegas, places like that. So, I think we're always strong there, but when we go to Michigan, it's an important race. We try to put our best foot forward, and our UPS team has had some top-fives and led some laps at Michigan, so you always try and put in a couple of extra percent on race day at Michigan."

THE 6 TEAM HAS STRUGGLED THIS YEAR AFTER FINISHING JUST ONE POSITION OUT OF THE CHASE IN 2008. WITH THAT IN MIND, IS MICHIGAN PERHAPS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOUR TEAM THIS WEEKEND AS IT LOOKS TO GET BACK TO WHERE IT WAS LAST YEAR? "Yeah, Michigan's a great place to go for us. One, because we can judge where are progress has been made on trying to figure out the new Goodyear tire, and making progress on our cars. And, I think that's a track that we expect to unload and be in the top 10, and if we were there, we'll know that our program is steady and we're still on track at making progress, but if we unload and we're facing some more issues, like some of the similar issues we faced throughout the year, then we'll know we've still got a lot of work to do. So, I think by going to a track like that, where you've been so successful, it's a good gauge in how well we have made progress in developing our cars and working together as a team to try to get back to where we belong, and that's in the top five and top 10."

DID YOUR NATIONWIDE WIN AT TALLADEGA IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES EARLIER THIS YEAR CHANGE ANYTHING? "Yes, it gives everybody a little bit of confidence, and you have that feel that, 'Hey, that's what winning is supposed to feel like,' and that's what we need to do. I think if it's done anything, it's just made me as driver want to win more. I think that you realize how good that win feels and how to go about getting to the front and trying to win a race, and you just always look back at that moment and that's where you try to put yourself in position every weekend, whether it's Nationwide, Cup, short track or big track. That's where you try to put yourself in."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Henry Ford , Jack Roush , David Ragan
Teams Roush Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing