What David Ragan would like most in his 400th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a good result.
Today, that’s most important. There will plenty of time for reminiscing and the marking of milestones later.
“Today it doesn’t really mean much. I’m focused on getting our No. 38 Ford fast and having a good day and kind of rebounding from a DNF at Daytona,” Ragan said this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“But maybe next month or the offseason, and certainly down the road, this will be a big deal. I’ll enjoy looking at some pictures and remembering some of the friends and the faces that have made it possible to make 400.”
Ragan’s NASCAR career has been a long journey filled with many twists and turns.
His national series debut came in the 2004 season in the Truck Series with Fiddleback Racing. Ragan caught the eye of Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush and made his Cup debut in 2006 at Dover, Del., at the age of 20.
“For me to be able to start in one NASCAR race was a really big deal, but to make 400 Cup races is something I really never thought about, and even during that time, I always just thought about race to race or year to year,” Ragan said.
“I never thought about a goal or making it to 200 or 300 or 400, so I’m grateful to have had sponsors and team owners that have given me the chance to go race.”
Roush elected to promote Ragan in 2007 to double duty – he ran full-time in both the Cup and Xfinity series. He did that for two seasons before Roush cut back his Xfinity schedule to part-time in 2009, the same season he also picked up his first two Xfinity wins.
Ragan picked up his first Cup victory in 2011 at Daytona in July but left the Roush organization at season’s end after never finishing better than 13th in the series standings.
Since then, Ragan has spent much of his time competing with Front Row Motorsports but has also taken detours to fill-in for an injured Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing and spent the 2016 season at BK Racing.
Ragan, 32, earned his second Cup victory with Front Row in 2013 at Talladega and returned to the organization last season, where he has remained since.
Still here and still fighting
There is a certain satisfaction the 400th career start for the native of Unadilla, Ga., comes in Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I can remember watching from a condo building in the summer of 1996 as they reconfigured this place and just dreaming of watching a race here,” he said. “I remember my Bandolero and Legends car days where I just basically lived here at the race track during the summer months and we raced a lot.
“Over the years having sponsors leave and losing my ride at the end of one year, a team shutting down, having to scrap and put together deals – somehow, someway I’ve been able to find myself in really good situations at the start of every season.
“I’ve been able to run all the races, and I’ve been healthy.”