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David Ragan Gets Biggest Win Of His Career

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 21 2011

David Ragan won the Showdown Saturday night. (RacinToday file photo by Tony Bush)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Concord, N.C. – The last time David Ragan stood in victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he was a pint-sized kid standing alongside a Legends car sponsored by Rudy Farms.

Saturday night, he returned to that same hallowed ground after passing Brad Keselowski for the lead with just over a lap remaining and pulling away to win the NASCAR Sprint Showdown.

Though it wasn’t a points paying race, Ragan still walked away with a trophy and $47,000. It also landed him a berth in the main event of Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race that paid one million dollars to win.

But more importantly, it gave the driver who lost this year’s Daytona 500 on a late restart a much-need boost of confidence.

“It does a lot for my confidence for myself and the team,” Ragan said. “We’ve been close to closing the deal and just haven’t been able to do it.

“Even there tonight for a few laps, I thought we were going to have to run second. But we kept fighting.”

Ragan’s winner’s interview on television was conducted on pit road. In fact, there wasn’t even time to push the car into victory lane for photos. The team was too busy readying it for for the All-Star portion of the night.

But that didn’t dampen the excitement in the voice of former Sprint Cup driver Ken Ragan, who stood alongside his wife Beverly as they watched a sea of photographers take their son’s picture in victory lane.

“We’ve been praying that David would get him a win,” Ragan said. “They’ve come back and they’ve really got the team jelling. (Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) has been really good for David.

“We’re just tickled to death. We feel like he’s going to get him a couple of wins this year. We’ve been wanting him to win one for four years. And now he’s got a chance to win two in one day.”

During his spare time, David Ragan, a native of Unadilla, Ga., returns to his racing roots by fielding a Late Model and Legends car.

Ragan competed in a Late Model race at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga. in January to raise money for a charity in Atlanta.

One month later, he suffered the biggest disappointment in his racing career when he was black flagged during the final laps of the Daytona 500 while leading the race.

Longtime friend Chris Dilbeck, who oversees Ragan’s Late Model and Legends cars, said it didn’t take long for his boss and buddy to get over the Daytona mishap.

“Any other driver would have been torn up,” Dilbeck said. “But David just put his head down and went on to the next week like it was any other week. You know, he’s probably one of the last blue collar racers out here. Everybody else paid their way, that’s the way I see it.”

“David doesn’t feel pressure about anything. He’s cool, calm and collected all the time. He’s just a good ol’ boy like always, just like he’s been since we were 12 years old. He hasn’t changed a bit.”

Ken Ragan is the former director of the Legends and Bandolero car program at CMS. Nowadays, he spends most of his time at David Ragan Ford in Unadilla, Ga.

He managed to arrive in Charlotte on Saturday in time to meet Ford executive Edsel Ford and see his son climb behind the wheel of the No. 6 UPS Logistics Ford.

“Six hours ago, I was at David’s Ford dealership selling Fords,” Ragan said. “To come up here and watch David race in one and win that race, what a deal. This is pretty neat.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 21 2011
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