Indianapolis Motor Speedway Brickyard 400 press conference
An interview with David Ragan and Ned Jarrett
THE MODERATOR: We have our Coors Light pole winner for the 18th running of the Brickyard 400 here tomorrow at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. David Ragan is our pole winner for tomorrow's race. We're pleased to be joined by David and also Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett.
David, congratulations on the pole, your second one of the season, winning one at Texas back in April. Certainly continuing the resurgent season you wanted to have. Talk about leading the pack tomorrow at the Brickyard.
DAVID RAGAN: It will be cool to lead the pack tomorrow. People will notice our bright blue car a little easier up front than they would back in the middle of the pack.
I knew we had a shot at the pole when we unloaded in qualifying trim on Friday. Our car was fast. We spent a little extra time today in race trim because I didn't think we were that great. Didn't really know what to expect from qualifying. Drew made a few small adjustments. Tried to hit my marks, not do anything crazy, knew we would have a shot at a top-five, top-five run for sure. We wound up on top.
It's an honor to be here and to be the fastest guy at Indy. This is a great track. Any type of accomplishment you get here is cool. I couldn't be more happy to have Ned here sitting beside me. Glad we lived up to what I told him. I told him we were going to be good this weekend, so I'm glad we were able to step up and do it.
THE MODERATOR: Ned, it's got to feel good that that No. 6 Ford, Hall of Fame Ford, will be out front tomorrow for the start of the Brickyard 400.
NED JARRETT: It's an unexpected bonus coming here this weekend, being honored by David and the UPS crew on the No. 6 Ford, then he goes out and wins the pole. Those white wheels and blue color is what did it.
DAVID RAGAN: Maybe we'll talk them into keeping that car.
NED JARRETT: I won a few in that car, but on dirt tracks, not the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for David or Ned.
Q. David, did you have some extra motivation hanging around Ned this weekend and driving that car, motivation going into tomorrow to kind of live up to a Hall of Famer, legend?
DAVID RAGAN: We can't try any harder than we've been trying all year. But absolutely, we want to do good for all the Ned Jarrett fans, for all the NASCAR Hall of Famers that are represented in not only this year's class but in years to come. NASCAR, UPS and the NASCAR Hall of Fame worked hard to make it happen. Glad we could give it a good run.
It makes it extra special to have Ned here, a little something different. I have high expectations for tomorrow, as well. It's good to get that pole today, but our focus is on tomorrow.
Q. David, it may seem like a little thing, but did you learn anything from starting on the pole at Texas that you'll think about tomorrow?
DAVID RAGAN: Well, I'm not going to change lanes before the start/finish line, that's the first thing I'm not going to do. I realized how good it is to have that good clean air from the get-go. At Texas we started off the race and we weren't that great, but we were able to run in the top five all night long because we had the number one stall and had good, clean air. That's unfair that a guy running 15th may have a better car than us, but because we're up there, we can stay and fight.
It gives us encouragement tomorrow when they drop the green flag, even if we lose five spots at the beginning of the run, we're still going to be fifth. That gives us some extra confidence, gives my pit crew confidence they can be aggressive on pit road, that I can come in the box hard, I don't have to worry about leaving and passing people on pit road, I can just shoot straight off.
There's so many pros that comes with that nice clean air. Yeah, you lead the field green, you know what you got to do from the front row. It gives you a little extra confidence saying, Hey, even if we struggle tomorrow, we still got a leg up on everyone.
Q. David, everyone had confidence in you to get to this level. What happened this year? What clicked that made this year so much different?
DAVID RAGAN: We had better racecars. Drew knew how to work on them to get them where I was comfortable. Same thing we had in the end of '07 and '08. I wasn't mature enough, made too many mistakes my first couple years when I was 19 and 20 years old that kept us from winning races. Then I was ready to win some races in '09 and '10. Our cars and engines weren't as good. I was forced to overdrive. Made some more mistakes. Went through a couple crew chief changes.
Finally Drew and I are together the end of last year. We see things in the same direction. All the Roush Fenway cars have the new FR-9 engine. We have better racecars, just a world of difference.
Q. Kasey came in and said he had a really good lap. He said you must have had a really good lap. He said you always want a cloud. We know how this track is, what the weather does to it. Talk about how your lap fell.
DAVID RAGAN: It was a good lap. I didn't make a mistake. I wasn't as aggressive as I wanted to be. But I told myself we had a good car. Had a shot to sit on the pole at Vegas, and I wound up backwards on the back straightaway. I didn't want that to happen again. I knew if I hit my marks, ran a conservative lap, I could be in the top five.
So it was just a good lap. Maybe I'll remember that for next time. Maybe that's the trick of getting around here. I hit my marks, was on the throttle hard, I could feel the engine pulling hard off the corners. Was happy the car did everything I wanted it to do. So they did a nice job adjusting on it.
Q. David, I know that race drivers don't like to look too far ahead, but how do you look ahead at the prospect that you're going to be in the Chase?
DAVID RAGAN: Yeah, I think about that and I want to get happy, but then I look to my left, I see Bowyer, I look to my right and I see Greg Biffle, Montoya, this one in the garage. That puts me down to reality pretty quick. A lot of good racecar drivers around me and teams.
We can't get confident that we're just going to get in because we've got a win or we've been running well. Guess what, those guys are running good, too. We've got to keep working hard. These are things we need to do to make the Chase. We can make the Chase, no doubt about it. We're prepared for the fight and can't wait.
Q. Ned, when you were racing, I'm sure you couldn't fathom stock cars going around the Speedway here. What are your feelings coming in here, seeing stock cars here? Is this someplace you wish you had a chance to run?
NED JARRETT: Yes, I do wish I would have had an opportunity to race here. Of course, the opportunity for anyone to race here in NASCAR didn't happen till long after I had already quit driving racecars. But this place has such tradition and so many great drivers have done good things here, it's good to see David have his name among those good drivers now because he's got a pole position and I expect him to go out and win tomorrow, and I think he will.
Honestly, when they wanted to do this this weekend to honor me, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the 6 car was the one that was chosen with UPS and Ford, I could not have been more pleased than to have them carrying my name and colors in this particular race. Even though I never got to race here myself, I haven't been this happy really since Dale won here a number of years ago. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for lifting me up again.
DAVID RAGAN: Glad you didn't tell me that before. That might have scared me (laughter).
Q. Ned, although you were driving for Bondy Long back in '65, when you heard that Kenny, Ray were coming in, was that an Indy 500 you listened to because there was a NASCAR representation that day?
NED JARRETT: Yes, paid a lot of attention to that. We knew how good they were in NASCAR. To come here and pit that car, go on and win the race, I thought it was a great shot in the arm for NASCAR racing because they brought something here that apparently had not been before.
I was not that up to date on the differences in the pit stops they made, how they went about it, how different it was with other teams that had been doing it for so many years. But I thought it was good for our sport. It was very interesting.
Q. Did you listen to it on the radio?
NED JARRETT: I listened to it on the radio, uh-huh.
Q. David, this race has a history of nothing but champion winners. The top teams at the top of their game win this race. Qualifying, seems to be a lot more surprises. Why do you suppose both of those things are the case?
DAVID RAGAN: Well, I think you got to be fast to sit on the pole. To win the race, you have to be fast, 400 miles worth. You got to be good throughout the afternoon when it's hot, slick, rubber builds up.
There's a lot more that goes into winning the race than being fast. You have to have a good pit crew, can't make mistakes on restarts. Leading the first lap is certainly a start to that. I'm not saying we're the number one contender for the championship. But if we were to go out and win tomorrow, I certainly wouldn't be surprised.
Q. David, when you came in, you were checking out the leaderboard up there. You're on the pole at Indianapolis. What does that feel like?
DAVID RAGAN: I'm hot right now. I feel hot.
But it feels cool. Obviously you look at Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, guys that are pretty dang good up here. Must mean my car was really good. I don't feel like that I drove as well as maybe I could have. But it's a good feeling.
Like Ned said, anyone that is just a race fan thinks a lot about this racetrack. To be able to come up here and be fast, obviously sit on the pole, that's big. It's big on Friday and it's big on Saturday. But when they drop the green flag tomorrow, it doesn't mean anything.
We'll enjoy it tonight, we'll talk about our lap, how much fun it was, how fast it was, all that good stuff. In the morning when we wake up it will be all business.
Q. David, the autograph session they had earlier today seemed to generate a little bit of a buzz amongst people that came out here. Do you feel something like that is important to bring this event back to the glory it once had?
DAVID RAGAN: Absolutely. Not only this event, but every racetrack, every stop we go to. I think that's what made our sport and continues to make our sport so great, is the fans' approach to the drivers, the crew chiefs, the team owners, the celebrities of the sport. I think by having those autograph sessions, by having Q&A sessions at the Sprint stage, spending time with UPS customers tomorrow, that's what makes everyone interested in coming out and enjoying a great race.
I think we should do it week in and week out. Different racetracks, every fan can't go to every racetrack. So my vote, I don't know how the other drivers would like it, but my vote is to have one at every single racetrack. We've got to remember where we're at. We have a lot of competition out there in this world with so many sporting activities and fun things to go and do, all kinds of entertainment. We have to go the extra mile to show appreciation to our fans. My vote would be to do it every single week.
NED JARRETT: That's why I'm so happy to have him carry my name and colors on his car.
Q. David, have you talked to Jack yet at all?
DAVID RAGAN: I haven't. Maybe he's over at the short track already. I haven't talked to him. Jack is going to see me and say, That's what you should have done, good job. I'll say, Thanks, Jack. Then he'll tell me tomorrow, start talking about fuel mileage, what we got to do tomorrow.
No, Jack's proud of us. He's proud of our team and Drew. That's a brand-new racecar. It's unbelievable. Ned can attest to this. Driving into turn one at any racetrack, with a car that's never even seen daylight before, having the confidence it's going to stick when you drive into turn one, that's what I'm proud of.
Q. This is one of the places he hasn't won. Is he eager to go to Victory Lane here?
DAVID RAGAN: I don't think Jack talks about stuff like that because he is a little bit more level. He expects to be fast. He's concentrated about the problems that we face in front of us.
But, yeah, deep down I know he wants to win here at Indy. He wants to win at Daytona. He likes winning at Michigan. He did let us know that the Kentucky race was the racetrack closest to where he grew up at, where his hometown was, and none of us had got him a win up there.
He thinks about that. That would be absolutely amazing to win for Jack. I'm sure all of our other drivers would say the same thing. We have as good a chance to win a race, all four of us, since we've been up here three or four years ago.
THE MODERATOR: David, Ned, congratulations. Continued good luck tomorrow.
DAVID RAGAN: Thank you, guys.
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