Fontana: Ragan - Ford Friday interview

David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, is sixth in the points heading into this weekend's race following a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500. It was the second time in three years that Ragan has finished sixth or better to start the...

David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, is sixth in the points heading into this weekend's race following a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500. It was the second time in three years that Ragan has finished sixth or better to start the season.

"I think that it's always good to start off with a strong run. It's great to see Matt Kenseth win for Jack Roush and John Henry. That was pretty special to be a part of that. Any time you can have a top-10 finish at Daytona, you always want more. You certainly would love to win the race, but a top-10 finish is good momentum coming to California, where it's been a good track for us in the past. We've never been real dominant for a win, but we've been a consistent top-10 or top-15 car. So, I think it's very good to get the year started off right. It would be awesome to leave here in the top 10 again in points. And the next few weeks, we're going to some strong tracks for us with Vegas and Atlanta. So, it's just a good feeling to leave Daytona without a lot of problems. Everything was smooth on the UPS team, and I'm happy to be here in California."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ROUSH FENWAY RACING AND THESE TYPES OF TRACKS? "I think it's a couple of things. Certainly having good horsepower means a lot. The Roush Yates engine program is, I think, one of the best engine packages at these mile-and-a-half, two-mile race tracks. And then Jack always has been real involved and has made sure that our engineering staff and our crew chiefs are very up to date on the mile-and-a-half stuff because this is the majority of the races that we experience, right here. You know, you see some of the other teams a little stronger at the short tracks or at the flat tracks, at some different style tracks, but I think we just look at it and see that the tracks like California, Michigan, even Chicago, Charlotte, Vegas, places like that are our typical race track, and if we're really good at those types of races, that will help us out throughout the year. So, we just put a lot of effort into these races. Since I've been at Roush in the last three years, we've started to put some more effort into our short-track program, into our speedway program. So, all I can say is we just put a lot of hard work into the mile-and-a-half and two-mile programs because it's a majority of the races."

I THINK I READ A STUDY WHERE THERE WAS $45 MILLION OF VALUE FROM THE DAYTONA 500 LAST WEEK. IN TERMS OF THE CURRENT ECONOMY, IT SEEMS THAT THE SPONSORS THAT ARE IN THE SPORT ARE GETTING A BANG FOR THEIR BUCK. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I think the people at home watching, I think that I noticed or looked in the paper, was like 15, 16 million, watching at home, and a lot of people at the race track. The race fans are always going to be paying attention, the racing's going to be as good as ever, if not better than it was last year, just because we've got another year under out belt with the COT car, so the fans are going to be there and that's what drives the sponsors and that's what motivates all the race teams. And I think companies like UPS and DeWalt, Crown Royal, the companies that are sponsoring the Roush Fenway cars, can see the light at the end of the tunnel. They're very strong companies. They see the statistics and everything that goes along with the NASCAR sport, traveling throughout the country and getting a lot of different areas. And race fans motivate and drives the sponsorships. I think, certainly for our point of view, we're watching every dollar that we spend, we're very cautious of not wasting money, but spending money in the right areas.

"When you walk through the garage, these teams are still spending a lot of money going racing, but we're spending it smart. The fans are watching at home and they're at the race track, and they're talking about it, in the newspapers and all that, sponsors are going to stayed involved, because that's what drives it."

HOW'S YOUR CONFIDENCE HEADING INTO THE SEASON? ARE YOU MORE EXCITED ABOUT THEPROSPECTS OF MAKING THE CHASE THIS YEAR AFTER JUST MISSING LAST YEAR? "Absolutely, we're more excited and I think our confidence is at an all-time high. If we would've finished sixth in last year's Daytona 500 we would've made the Chase. I think every race matters, every lap matters and every position certainly mattered, and we're going to have that experience from last year to dwell on this year for the 2009 season. Yeah, absolutely, we're excited. We think we've got a very strong race team. We've got a group of guys who have worked together the last two years, so we know exactly what each other needs in order to do their jobs, and I have a pretty good feeling of what I need to do to do my job on the track. I think we've matured a lot as a race team, and [crew chief] Jimmy Fennig has continued to build good race cars, so, absolutely, it's an exciting time to for the a UPS team, and I feel like we're kind of in the driver's seat, we control our own destiny. We just need to be smart with all of the races this year leading up to Richmond."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jack Roush , David Ragan