David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion and Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, has a great deal of experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but most of it has come on the quarter-mile Legends track. Ragan, who grew up in Unadilla, Ga.,...
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion and Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, has a great deal of experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but most of it has come on the quarter-mile Legends track. Ragan, who grew up in Unadilla, Ga., is scheduled to start 38th in Sunday's Kobalt 500. He spoke about coming back to his home track and how he plans on getting to the front tomorrow.
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion
YOU'VE HAD A LOT OF EXPERIENCE ON THE SMALLER TRACK HERE AT AMS, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE BIG ONE? "I think the race track is great. It's very sensitive. If you're a little loose, you're real loose. If you're a little tight, I think you're real tight. I think as far as racing goes this track is probably the best. It's got a lot of speed out there. We had a great run here in the fall with our Craftsman Truck last year and this is a track I was really looking forward to coming to. We've struggled a little so far. We definitely haven't given up anything yet, but I think when it's all said and done we'll be all right."
IS IT JUST A CASE OF BEING CAUTIOUS ON THE FIRST DAY? "A little bit of it is being cautious and the second part is maybe being a little conservative in the setup here. We're trying to find what car is the best car in our fleet. This is a car that we haven't run yet this year, so a lot of it is just getting here and figuring out what front springs work best and then you've got some tire rubs to deal with and you're kind of behind the eight ball from the first lap. With the rain and all yesterday we didn't have a lot of time, so it was kind of rush, rush with the Busch car and the Cup car. I'm not worried yet. If we're still struggling in the morning I might be a little worried, but I think we've got two practices today and 500 miles today, so there are a lot of opportunities to work on it."
HOW MANY RACES WOULD YOU GUESS YOU'VE COMPETED IN AT THIS TRACK? "I would say it's probably close to 75. I've run the Summer Shootout here four or five years and the combination of winter races and heat races and road course races here in different divisions, you're looking at somewhere between 75 and 100."
SO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE AT HOME WHEN YOU COME HERE? "Definitely, especially with the people and the surroundings. There are a lot of people around here that I'm familiar with and spent a lot of time with over the years. I basically grew up here in the infield. We had a little shop here, so it's good to come back to a place like this. Yeah, you feel comfortable, but at the same time you've got to remember what we're here for and that's for the big race on Sunday and try not to let the distractions of the people get to you."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN STARTING FROM THE BACK TOMORROW? "I've got to get through the first few laps and make it to the first pit stop and let things get straightened out a little bit. Certainly everytime we come down pit road we're gonna work on it and make it better, so the big thing is just get from pit stop to pit stop and try to focus on what Jimmy and the guys can do to make the car better. It's kind of like the first 300 miles is just more practice and then the last 200 miles we'll have a good handling car and be able to go out and race them. It's all about the points now, so we're just gonna try to keep getting those points."
IS THIS A SITUATION WHERE HAVING A VETERAN CREW CHIEF LIKE JIMMY FENNIG HELPS EASE YOUR MIND? "I know that we haven't given it all we've got yet. He's probably being a little conservative on the chassis side so I don't go out and bust my butt, and I'm also being a tick conservative. There's no need to get out of shape here in practice or qualifying and we feel like when the time comes we'll be ready to go. Whether we're starting 25th or 35th, it really doesn't matter. If you're back there worse than 15th or 18th, it's all the same. We weren't happy that we didn't qualify as well as we wanted to and over the next month or two we'll work on our program. We want to be able to qualify in the top 20 every race and until we get to where we can roll off the truck with cars that have been to the race track, and get to race tracks that I'm familiar with and have been to a time or two, that will come with time."
A LOT OF PEOPLE LOOK AT JUAN MONTOYA AS THE FAVORITE FOR THE RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR TITLE. DO YOU LIKE BEING THE UNDERDOG WHEN IT COMES TO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AND IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO STAY WITH HIM THROUGHOUT THE YEAR? "Oh yeah it's very important. He's definitely a lot more experienced guy and he's done a lot more than me, so that's why he's getting a lot of attention. That's fine. We'll just sneak up on it quietly and I think what we have done and need to continue to do is get the finishes. In practices and qualifying we need to be there and make sure our stuff is comfortable, and then when it comes time to race I've just got to be a smart race car driver on Sunday and everything will take care of itself."
-credit: ford racing