This Week in Ford Racing David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, continues to creep up on the 12th and final position in the chase for the championship. Ragan goes into this weekend's event at Pocono Raceway in 14th place overall, just...
This Week in Ford Racing
David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, continues to creep up on the 12th and final position in the chase for the championship. Ragan goes into this weekend's event at Pocono Raceway in 14th place overall, just 56 points behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer. Ragan spoke about what his goals were at the start of the season and what the keys have been to his success.
WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT MAKING THE CHASE AT THE START OF THE YEAR OR WERE YOUR GOALS DIFFERENT? "We were definitely thinking the chase was a possibility. Championships are won by no mistakes throughout the year and having a lot of wins and fast race cars, and we knew that would be an outside chance, but to make the chase, there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't. We kind of have everything in our control. It's in our hands. Our race cars have been fast. Our engines are good. We don't have many mechanical failures and it's just a matter of making the right calls in the pits and me doing a good job on the race track, so that's something we've looked at from day one. We knew that we could be in the top 15 in points and have a shot at the chase. We've made a couple of mistakes throughout the year that's cost us a few points, but, other than that, we're where we think we should be. We always want to be better. We always want to run better and I think if I could just have two or three races back this year, we'd be in a lot better shape, but we still have a lot of racing to go and we still have some improvement to do."
HOW MUCH HAS JIMMY FENNIG HELPED YOU THIS YEAR? "He's a guy that doesn't have to ask anybody about anything. He knows everything about the race car, about the race tracks, about the strategies, about the best way to get back to the airport after the race. He just knows it all and after 10 or 15 years of experience at the top level doing the right things you find that stuff out. There are other guys that have been at the top level as long as he has, but they don't have the determination and good work ethic and good coaching ability like he does, so basically he just runs a tight ship team. He's got good, quality people and he's hand-picked the AAA over-the-wall team, so everything just goes a lot smoother when you have someone that dedicated in the leadership role."
DID JIMMY'S RESUME MAKE YOU LISTEN TO HIM RIGHT OFF THE BAT? "Oh yeah. You only are as good as the people you surround yourself by and I think that's been important with the deal here at Roush. Guys like Mike Beam and Mike Kelley on the Nationwide side and certainly Jimmy on the Cup side are all great guys who are racers and know what's going on because they don't make many mistakes. That's good for a rookie driver to have that kind of confidence in his team."
IS IT A COMBINATION OF HAVING THAT EXPERIENCE AROUND YOU AND YOUR EXPERIENCE BEHIND THE WHEEL THAT HAS RESULTED IN IMPROVEMENT AT ALL THESE TRACKS? "Oh, 100 percent. It's all about experience on the race track, the experience working with Jimmy on the race car on Fridays and Saturdays. That's what this sport is all about and you see guys like Tony and Zipadelli, and Gordon and some of his crew and the guys that are up front every weekend, they just have that experience. They know what they want and when you only have a couple hours of practice and then you go race and qualify, you have to be good pretty quick. So I think that's something we all look forward to having is that relationship where we know what each other is thinking. He trusts me that I'm gonna drive as hard as I can and as smart as I can and certainly I trust him that he's gonna make the right pit calls and he's gonna make the right decisions on shocks and springs. At the end of the day if we didn't do something right, we learn from it and we move on."
HAS THAT BEEN THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN YOUR PERFORMANCE, GOING BACK TO THESE TRACKS FOR THE SECOND AND THIRD TIME? "Yeah, it's very simple. Everything the second time around is easier. If you're good and have a good work ethic and try to do the right things, you just learn from your mistakes. We don't cover our eyes when something bad happens, we bring it out on the table and look at what's going on and try to find a solution to make things happen so it won't happen again. I think that's the biggest thing. We haven't shied away from the mistakes that we've made and have just tried to learn from them."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HEADING BACK TO POCONO FOR THE SECOND TIME IN SIX WEEKS? "Pocono was one of my favorite tracks when we first went there in the ARCA car because we were fast and we would have liked to have won the race there, but the times I've been there in the Cup car, we've just struggled. I think we've finished something like 20th to 25th or 26th every time we've been there, so that's just something we've really got to work on. That's one of our weak points and to be a championship contender we've got to get to where we can have some top-fives and top-10s at types of tracks like that. Watkins Glen, Pocono and some of the tracks we've struggled on, that's where we're going to work on. It's a race track and everyone has the same opportunity to work off the same rules and race car and tires and you just have to learn to work with it."