Daytona 500: Ragan - Media Day visit

DAVID RAGAN - No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO 2011? "It feels good. Every year everyone is optimistic. Nobody comes to Daytona thinking, 'Oh, we don't have fast cars. Our pit crew is slow. It's gonna be a long year.' Everybody is optimistic, but I really feel like the Roush Fenway team is better than we've been in two years. We've got better race cars, better engines, better bodies, better pit crews - everything is better. Now it's just a point where we've all got to go and do our jobs. We're focused on doing that. I feel like I'm a better driver than I was a year ago, I've just got to go out there and not make mistakes, so I'm ready. I wish the Daytona 500 was tomorrow. I wish we could line up, unload the cars and say, 'Look boys, the first lap you're gonna make is the first lap of the race.' Let's go racing. I'm ready for it."

WHAT DID CARL'S TWO WINS LATE LAST YEAR DO FOR THE ORGANIZATION? DID IT PROVE YOU GUYS WERE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? "Absolutely. We had top-10 cars the last five races of the year. We could have and did finish in the top five or top 10, so we had some good runs and that gives everybody motivation in our chassis shop and body shop. For two years we'd been digging ourselves out of a hole, so it's mentally and physically tough working on Saturdays and 60-hour weeks. Those guys are putting in that effort, so it's good to see some trophies come back home, see some top 10s and see some good runs. I think that was just kind of a breath of fresh air that allowed everybody to keep working hard through the off-season."

DREW HAS REMAINED WITH YOU AFTER IT WAS ORIGINALLY A TRIAL BASIS. HOW WAS THAT DECISION MADE DURING THE OFF-SEASON? "It went so well that we just kind of picked up and I think our third race out we finished eighth or 10th. Drew just kind of stepped right in and went to work. I think he had been a part of those positions earlier, going into Matt's deal and going into Carl's Nationwide program and just stepping in and going. It's been really good. When we got to those last couple of races and some of the questions were starting to arise on what the crew chief was going to look like I told Jack, 'Look, I want Drew. This is what I want.' Obviously, he said we have to talk to Carl first, so I called Carl and he was actually the one who was very cool about it. Carl is a great teammate and a great friend and it worked out the best for everyone. Mike Beam has his Nationwide deal running good, so it's worked out well and I can't wait for us to get on the race track again."

WHY DID YOU GUYS SEEM TO CLICK SO WELL? "I think it's kind of 50/50. We're at a similar age. We want to be at the Cup level. We want to win races. We both have had some success and we've both had some things happen that we've learned from, going back and forth from the Nationwide car to the Cup car. And then another part of the 6 car running better is just Roush in general being better. I think that we were gonna run better at the end of the year no matter who our crew chief was, but Drew brought some extra fire to the team that elevated us a little bit more. He works great with all the pit crew members. He understands what's going on over the wall and I can't say enough good things about him. We just have to work together."

WHAT IS THE KEY FOR YOU THIS YEAR? "We've got to get back to being consistent. We've got to be strong several weeks in a row. So many times the last couple of years we'd have a little momentum on our side and then we'd fall off for a couple of weeks. We've worked really hard on our short track program. I've turned the corner on our road course program. Our downforce and superspeedway programs are really strong, so we've got to win a race this year. We've just got to be in contention. If you're in contention to win some races, you're gonna win a couple. We're at that point now and a good year for us would be top 15 in points - be in contention. If you're in contention to win some races, you never know what's gonna happen in the points. That's kind of what we're looking at."

-source: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup