- Looking for first 2011 win
- Finished fourth at Richmond
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, is currently on a streak that has seen him post three top-10 finishes in the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. He’s coming off a season-best fourth-place run at Richmond and goes into Saturday’s event at Darlington Raceway 19th in the point standings. Ragan, who has a fifth-place finish to his credit in four NCSC starts at ‘The Lady in Black’ spoke to Ford Racing about where his teams stands after nine races.
We’re in a position to win a race and that’s not something you can force to happen.
IT SEEMS YOU’VE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, BUT YOU ONLY HAVE FOUR STARTS AT DARLINGTON. IS THAT A TRACK THAT TAKES SOME TIME TO GET USED TO OR HAS THE REPAVE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO EVENED THINGS OUT? “I was fortunate and very glad to have been able to run one time on the old pavement, but since I’ve been doing this we’ve only gone there once a year, so I haven’t had a chance to go back a second time in the same year. But the new race track runs more like a mile-and-a-half because you carry a lot of speed with the cars that we take and the setups that we run. For me, it’s just about managing my race car and my emotions all night and trying to make the right moves to be around at the end. It’s so easy to forget where you’re at and if you just push it a little too hard, it’ll bite you pretty quick.”
YOU WERE 5TH IN ’08, BUT ALSO WRECKED AND FINISHED 38TH IN ’09, SO THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES WHEN YOU GO THERE, RIGHT? “Just when you get to feeling real comfortable and familiar with everything, or you push it a little too hard, it can bite you. It’s something that I know we all talk about going there, but you just have to manage it through the weekend. Our cars have been really good at the short tracks and the intermediate tracks, and that’s kind of a combination of the two, so I expect great things at Darlington this weekend. Just like any race, we’ve got to manage our tires, our pit strategy and we just have to run a nice race. The speed and the car will take care of itself and we expect to be in the top 10 at the end of the night.”
YOU HAVE THREE TOP 10’s IN THE LAST FOUR RACES. IS THIS AS GOOD A STRETCH AS YOU’VE HAD THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? “In the last year or two, absolutely. At the end of last year at Charlotte and Texas we had top 10s, and then we ran good at Homestead and didn’t get the good finish that we needed, but I think it’s definitely good to get in this rhythm right before the summer months. Obviously, we’ve got a busy stretch coming up before our next off weekend, so it does feel good to get on a roll. We’ve got some good tracks coming up for us with Dover, which is a great track for the Roush cars, Charlotte, and then we go to Kansas and Pocono, which are obviously good tracks, so I definitely feel like this is the right time of the year to get in a good groove.”
WITH THE WAY YOU WERE ABLE TO RACE ON SATURDAY AND HOLD OFF THE LIKES OF JIMMIE JOHNSON AT ONE POINT AND THEN PASS YOUR TEAMMATE, CARL, DOWN THE STRETCH HAS THAT GIVEN YOUR TEAM A RENEWED SENSE OF CONFIDENCE? “We’ve always known that we’ve had the cars and speed to do it, but there’s always been just one key element over the course of a weekend where we would make a small mistake here or there and couldn’t recover from it, so it’s good to know we’ve gotten in this rhythm and our pit crew is confident in their ability to recover from something. To have a bad pit stop the first stop and never give up, and then recover to a top-five finish is certainly good. It shows that we’re fighting hard and it’s fun. When you’ve got fast race cars like we have, it makes racing so much more fun.”
WE ALWAYS HEAR DRIVERS TALK ABOUT HOW THEY HAVE TO RUN CONSISTENTLY IN THE TOP 10 AND THEN THE TOP 5 BEFORE ACTUALLY WINNING. DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE IN THAT ZONE RIGHT NOW WHERE A WIN IS CLOSE AT HAND? “Oh, yeah. We can certainly win a race. I felt like at Richmond if one or two things change, we could have won that race. If the guys that were playing the fuel mileage game miscalculated a little bit, we were the best car right behind them. We’re in a position to win a race and that’s not something you can force to happen, you’ve just got to be there in the top five and it’ll come around. I think Darlington is the same thing. We’ll go there with a mindset of qualifying good, being up front all night, and then the last 30-40 laps we’re gonna go as hard as we can to try to put ourselves in a position to win.”
-source: ford racing