Heading for Charlotte Ford driver Ragan stays steady while gaining experience

David Ragan escaped the big one at Talladega Sunday afternoon, posting his best finish of the season with a fourth place effort. Ragan, who was running 10th when the chaos began, talked about how he avoided trouble to finish the race in the top-five, what he has accomplished the season and hopes to accomplish down the stretch, and previews Saturday nights race at Charlotte.

David Ragan, Front Row Racing
David Ragan, Front Row Racing

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

IT WAS A CRAZY FINISH LAST WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA, BUT IT WORKED OUT PRETTY WELL FOR YOU. WALK US THROUGH THE CRASH FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE. “Yeah, everybody expects a finish like that at Talladega. We are all aware of the circumstances that we race in and we all know that everyone stops giving and on those last couple laps there is a lot more taking than giving by the drivers. I think the race was pretty calm until that last green-white-checkered and I certainly had a feeling in my gut that it was going to get a little rough. We restarted 10th and I was hoping we could be on the leading edge of whatever craziness was going to happen. I was glad we took the white flag and I knew we would be racing back to the checkers, and we were able to get through it. We were just in the right place at the right time. We were able to get out of the carnage on the top side of the race track and have a little bit of clear room in order to make it back around to the start-finish line.”

IS THERE A STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH A HUGE WRECK LIKE THAT OR DO YOU JUST HOLD ON AND HOPE FOR THE BEST? “I think the strategy that I try to have on those last couple of laps is to just watch what is going on around you. Obviously you can’t control what other cars do but if you see a car getting pushed or fixing to spin then maybe you can react a split second quicker and that will allow you to dodge the wreck. I think that in that case I was on the very top of the track, and there was no car between me and the wall. I think that was the only constant that I had. I could ride the wall for a second and hope that some of the cars underneath me would take care of themselves and then you just hope that you can keep going straight. I think things you think about when you are in a wreck like that are to keep the car running, try not to spin yourself out and basically as quick as you can downshift to third or second gear and try to get out of it before someone else runs into the back of you.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. WAS PROBABLY THE MOST VOCAL DRIVER AFTER LAST WEEKEND SAYING HE DOESN’T EVEN WANT TO GO TO DAYTONA WITH THE WAY THE SUPERSPEEDWAY RACING IS RIGHT NOW. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT? “I think that the four superspeedway races we have a year is the perfect number. I think it is a good mixture that NASCAR has of short tracks, big tracks, speedways and road courses. If I remember correctly, Dale was the one that didn’t like the tandem racing and wanted the packs back again and so ultimately we have no one to be upset with other than ourselves. The drivers control how aggressive and how much give and take there is on the race track. If we want to have cleaner races then we will all stop pushing and stop blocking each other and there won’t be as many wrecks. Obviously the drivers are the ones that control that. NASCAR, the team owners, spotters and crew chiefs don’t really have a say in it. Until the drivers want to change something we will keep having these big wrecks and we know there is a good chance of that happening going in. There are different strategies to try to get through it. I have been a part of wins at speedways and I have wrecked on the first lap and finished 43rd and been everywhere in between. I still enjoy going to the superspeedways. It is a different element of surprise in every lap, every finish and every race. That is what keeps everyone on their toes and makes it exciting.”

WHAT HAS THIS SEASON BEEN LIKE FOR YOU AND WHAT DOES A TOP-FIVE FINISH DO FOR YOUR TEAM HEADING INTO CHARLOTTE? “Our expectations were realistic at Front Row Motorsports. We knew we would have a shot to run well at a few of the races this year. Being a new team, a smaller team and underfunded team compared to the powerhouses of our sport we knew realistically that we just wanted to have a shot to run well in a few races and stay steady and in the top-30 in points. We have been able to do that and I think if you look at a few of our finishes this year, that is certainly a bright spot there at Talladega to have that top-five going into these last few races. It kind of gives everyone a little confidence that we have continued to get better as a team. I think it shows that we are making progress and you have to start somewhere. I don’t know of any team that has come into our sport that has been a race winner right off the bat. Now, more so than ever, it is very difficult to come into our sport not only as a driver, crew man or owner but as a team to try to make themselves an established team. I have been proud to be a part of it. Absolutely I would love to be contending for a championship but that is our goal years down the road, and we are going to take it one step at a time.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO CHARLOTTE THIS WEEKEND. WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO HAVE A GOOD RUN THERE FOR YOU GUYS? “I think Charlotte, the 500-mile race, the race starts at night and is a fast-paced race. You don’t have a lot of time to make your car better throughout the evening. I think a lot of times whoever is fast to start with is pretty good throughout the race. It isn’t like the Coke 600 where the track changes and you have plenty of time to deal with it. You have to be good from the green flag and not have any mistakes all night long. Charlotte is a fun place to race, and it is the only night race of the Chase so we are excited and looking forward to Saturday night.”

IS THERE AN OVERRIDING GOAL OF YOUR TEAM IN THESE FINAL RACES THIS SEASON? “To start the season it was important for us to get both cars in the top-35 in points and keep them there. We have been able to do that real easy. Then we said we wanted the top-30 in points which meant we had to out-race some of the cars we were racing around and couldn’t have many DNF’s. Now David (Gilliland) and I are 27th and 28th or something like that in driver points. It is a long shot to get to 25th but I think that is a realistic goal to finish the year on a good note and have a couple more top-15 and top-20 finishes. To go into the offseason where the cars are changing and try to give our guys some encouragement to work hard over the off season to try to get to that next step.”

Source: Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers David Ragan
Teams Front Row Motorsports
Article type Interview
Tags charlotte, ford, front row, ragan