Nancy Knapp Schilke
David Ragan appears to be aiming for the Penske Racing ride that is available due to the ousting of Kurt Busch by Roger Penske. On the same day, Monday, December 5, that Penske and Busch made their split official, Ragan was given his release from Roush Fenway Racing per his own request.
Ragan’s one and only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win came this year at Daytona International Speedway Motor Speedway in the July 4th weekend race. It was his first victory out of 163 starts.
Said Ragan after scoring his first victory: “It feels good, and I knew we could do it all long. But I couldn't do it without my teammates, as they have helped me during my career. I feel like we should have won 100 races ago. Everyone helped us out, and we managed to get to the finish line first.”
Since his move up the ladder to the Cup series in 2007 – the year he earned the Rookie of the Year crown – he has finished in the top ten 22 times. Ragan finished 23rd in points this year.
Earlier rumours had Ragan leaving the Roush Ford team for a Chevrolet ride next year. As of this morning, he suddenly became one of the candidates for the Penske Racing Dodge seat. His request to leave Roush Fenway Racing came after the Penske announcement on the team’s split with Busch.
Seems odd that a driver who was still under contract would want to renew with the same team for the 2012 season and not take a chance on landing a ride. Of course the earlier news that UPS, the sponsor of the #6 car, was not going to renew their contract might have affected Ragan's decision.
Only time will tell if Ragan will land an early 26th birthday present on Christmas Eve. However his competition for the Penske Dodge team ride includes Brian Vickers due to the closing of operations by the Red Bull Racing Toyota team. Also looking for a ride is David Reutimann who was released from his Michael Waltrip Racing ride.
Sitting in the wings is Sam Hornish Jr. who drives for Penske Racing in the Nationwide series this past season. Hornish is a former IndyCar champion and did race for the team in the Cup series before Penske decided to have him leave Cup to focus on Nationwide. It was a good call by Penske at that time since Hornish only had two top-5 finishes during his first attempt in the Cup series (2008 to 2010).
Please see: Busch and Penske part ways