BUSCH: Charlotte II: Ragan - Ford Thursday interview

It was announced earlier this week that David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series, would succeed Mark Martin in the No. 6 Roush Racing Nextel Cup entry for 2007. Ragan, who is scheduled to compete in the No. 6 Ford...

It was announced earlier this week that David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series, would succeed Mark Martin in the No. 6 Roush Racing Nextel Cup entry for 2007. Ragan, who is scheduled to compete in the No. 6 Ford Fusion in the Busch Series this weekend, shared his thoughts on being named the driver of Roush's flagship entry.

DAVID RAGAN-6-Scotts Ford Fusion

WHAT THOUGHTS WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU WERE TOLD THAT YOU'D BE DRIVING THE NO. 6 CUP CAR NEXT YEAR? "The first few thoughts were, 'Man, this is what I have been pulling for my whole life.' Trying to get an opportunity to get in a Nextel Cup car means a lot, and being considered for a ride like the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion is outstanding. I was just thrilled to be considered for the ride, and then when Jack and Geoff Smith called and said it was going to be me, the first few seconds we, 'Hey, this is cool. This is exciting and I'm going to have a great time next year.' The next few seconds after that were, 'Hey, I've got my work cut out for me over the off-season.' We've got a lot of hard work to do, myself and the crew chiefs that prepare my stuff, to go out and contend for wins and top-fives and top-10s next year."

ANY FEARS THAT FILLING THE SHOES OF MARK MARTIN MIGHT BECOME OVERWHELMING? "Anything can be overwhelming in this sport, and that's when you look at guys like Mike Beam and Jimmy Fennig. You've got to look at these guys and feed off of them some. And, you look around the garage and you see Nextel Cup champions and race winners, and it can be overwhelming, but there's no need to think like that. Jack Roush has put an outstanding group of guys, personnel in key positions around me to help myself and all of the other Roush Racing rookies -Erik Darnell, Todd Kluever, and Danny O'Quinn - to really help us perform week in and week out, so it's our job to use that to our advantage and try to make ourselves better."

DOES IT SEEM LIKE A LONG TIME AGO THAT YOU RACED AROUND THE SHORT TRACK AT LOWE'S? "I raced a couple of months ago out here, so it wasn't that long. I've talked to Reed Sorenson quite a bit, and he and I grew up racing the Legend Car circuit. He's a great race car driver that's done very well for himself and it's pretty cool. Hopefully I can race as many races as they'll throw to me next year, and get to race a lot, but I'd like to find myself out here on Tuesday nights some coming back and racing some of the Legend Cars out here. It's some of the best racing that you'll see from Saturday at Bristol till Tuesday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It's all pretty cool."

FROM SPLITTING A RIDE WITH MARK MARTIN IN THE TRUCKS SERIES TO FILLING HIS SEAT IN THE CUP SERIES NEXT YEAR, HAS THIS YEAR BEEN SOMEWHAT OF A SURPRISE? "It was a surprise. Going into this year, I just told myself that I'm splitting the ride with Mark Martin, and if I can just compete at the same level he does in the Craftsman Truck Series and have good, positive feedback to the crew chiefs and have some good runs, and if they'd let me drive a Busch car this year, I hope I can get to run one. Now I'm sitting here, in the fall at Charlotte, and I have the number one Busch car out here, and I've got the number one Busch team with Mike Beam and Hal Rolston leading it, it's pretty amazing to be able to say, 'Hey, I'm going to get to run another Cup race this year. I'm going to get to run another Busch race.' It's amazing to sit here at this point in time realizing that. Ultimately, a year ago I was sitting back thinking that if I can just get a chance to run a Busch race and do well in my truck races, hopefully it would all work out, and it has so far, but I still have a lot of hard work yet."

YOU MISSED TWO TRUCK RACES THIS YEAR WHEN JACK ROUSH OPTED TO SIT YOU OUT. DID THAT EXPERIENCE HELP YOU GROW AS A RACE CAR DRIVER TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THIS TRANSITION? "Yes, I am amazed, but in one sense, that just shows you what kind of hard work we do all put into this, and good comes out when you do put good work and good work ethics in week in and week out. I think that was the big wake-up call for me. I needed to go about things a little different. I think I had just a one-track mind. I was wide open every lap, all the time. I had to scale back a little bit, and I hated to sit out that race, but I think all in all, in the long terms of things, that will probably help me out. I know it's helped me out from that point forward this year."

BEING THAT YOU SHARE THE NO. 6 TRUCK RIDE WITH MARK MARTIN, DO YOU THINK MARK WAS A BIG PROPONENT OF YOURS? "I think Mark's helped me in a lot of ways that I might not ever find out. Mark's really an awesome guy. He's an awesome champion, and an awesome race car driver. It's been a privilege to work with him some this year. Going into the season, I was a little disappointed as a race car driver and as a competitor, I want to race something every week, week in and week out. When I got the opportunity to split the ride with Mark, I knew that wasn't exactly what I wanted, but in the long term of things, that might pay off for me. If I can get in something that Mark was in and compare our driving styles and compare setups to each other, that really helped me out a lot. Yeah, I haven't got to run as many laps and as many races this year as I would have liked, but still being part of the Scotts Ford F-150 team and has been amazing and helped me a lot."

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WERE A CANDIDATE FOR THE NO. 6 CUP CAR? "I tried not to do a lot of thinking about the Cup car for next year. I knew that it was a possibility amongst all of the Roush Racing rookies, and I knew that I just had to go out and take care of my own self and try to minimize my mistakes and try to run good week in and week out and continue to get better every week. That's something from the later part of the summer that I've really tried to focus on - if I've got a 10th-place truck to finish 10th and try not to pull any crazy bonehead moves again and just really get some good experience. I don't know exactly what they were looking for in the next driver for the 6 Cup car, but I'm very fortunate to just be considered and very thrilled to be getting an opportunity to go out and have some fun and be a Nextel Cup race car."

-credit: ford racing

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Drivers Jack Roush , David Ragan , Reed Sorenson , Todd Kluever , Erik Darnell , Danny O'Quinn , Mark Martin