Georgia’s Ragan Giving Good Starts To Future Stars

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 27 2023

Joey Logano was one of Ken Ragan’s prize pupils. (File photo Leverone/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

PERRY, Ga. – It’s a stormy Sunday afternoon in Georgia and Ken Ragan, the Director of Legends racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, is back home relaxing following a marathon day at Lanier National Speedway.

A few hours earlier, Ragan was busy overseeing 91 Bandolero and Legends cars battle deep into the night in double features on the .375-mile oval in Braselton, Ga.

Label it a typical weekend for the former NASCAR Cup Series driver who has had a hand in the popular Bandolero and Legends program since it launched in the 1990s.

A week earlier, all three of NASCAR’s touring series invaded Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Ragan’s Legends of Georgia office sits in the infield.

One of Ragan’s star pupils, Joey Logano, stopped by the office on Sunday morning to offer words of encouragement to several of the current crop of Bandolero and Legends drivers who compete on AMS’ quarter-mile layout.

A few hours later, Logano stood in victory lane relishing in one of the most coveted wins of his career while having flashbacks of when he wheeled his No. 10 around Atlanta’s “Thunder Ring “

That evening as Logano met the media, he was quick to thank Ragan for steering him down the path that laid the foundation for a NASCAR career worthy of legendary status at the tender age of 32.

“We were down here (from Connecticut in 1999) visiting and met Ken Ragan, who was running Legends of Georgia and is David Ragan’s dad,” Logano said. “Ken said ‘why don’t you try a Bandolero and give it a shot?’ We did that day. He let us rent one for the weekend.

“We came back about six months later, moved (into a condo overlooking Turn 4) and started racing right here.”

The modest Ragan, a native of Unadilla, Ga., immediately paid a compliment of his own to the Logano family when informed of Joey’s comments in the media center after winning the Ambetter Health 400.

“That is so neat,” Ragan said. “We were close to Joey and his family and they would take David with them to race every weekend. A lot of times, I couldn’t go.

“They helped me out as much as I helped them out by getting David a lot of track time.”

Ragan, who remains close friends with Joey Logano and his father Tom, reminisced and pointed out the fact the Legends series has produced many drivers who have enjoyed success in NASCAR.

“There have been so many of them that have come up through the program,” said Ragan, whose son David has two Cup Series victories on his resume. “I look at some of the pictures on the wall of Reed (Sorenson), Chris Buescher and even Chase Elliott, who spent a lot of time racing with us. And there’s Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger and the list just goes on and on.”

Bandolero and Legends racing in Georgia remains healthy, with large car counts anticipated this season for a full slate of events scheduled at AMS, Atlanta Motorsports Park, Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele and Lanier.

“We get good car counts here in Georgia,” Ragan said. “And I figure we’ll have over 100 cars each week for Thursday Thunder in Atlanta.”

Ragan’s best endorsement of the program comes from its most successful graduate.

“I think it’s a good way to learn the basics of racing,” Logano said of Bandolero and Legends cars. “It comes from years of racing, actually going out there and doing it, learning about your race car, working on your race car and learning the craft out there.

“But most importantly having fun. That’s the biggest thing.”

The promoter came out in Ragan when he pointed out winners of three NASCAR events in Atlanta last season – Elliott (Cup in July), Hill (Xfinity in July) and Corey Heim (Trucks in March) – all cut their teeth in racing by competing in a Legends car at AMS.

“And two of our guys (Hill and Logano) won last weekend,” a grinning Ragan said. “I told Joey ‘now, you won 10 in a row here in your Bandolero. There ain’t no pressure, but don’t forget that.’

“So, when he comes back to Atlanta in July, he’ll be trying to get two in a row.”


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 27 2023
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