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Ragan Hopes UPS Will Soon Deliver Good News

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 15 2011

David Ragan finally got to do a Sprint Cup burnout after winning the Coke Zero 600 at Daytona two weeks ago. It remains to be seen if the victory will settle his future. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

From the time David Ragan first started running Legends cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s quarter-mile track, the question was: “Will he ever make it to the Sprint Cup Series?”

His father, Ken Ragan, was a part-timer on the circuit now known as Cup, and once young David started racing, Ken moved the family from Unadilla to the area around AMS then on to Charlotte. His goal seemed to be to do what he needed to do to get his son noticed in NASCAR.

The son did his part too, on and off the track. He won early and often in Legends cars, and he impressed people with his manners. With Ragan it was, and still is, “Yes sir” and “No Sir” with lots of “Thank You” as well.

It worked. Ragan got a ride with Jack Roush, even though his supporters back home worried that his lack of much experience in anything other than Legends cars might make for a short tenure at the top. But Ragan has endured. His breakthrough Cup victory at Daytona a couple of weeks ago puts him in a good spot to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But the questions around Ragan still sound much like the ones people expressed when he was a teen-ager? That’s because his future is far from certain. UPS, the sponsor of his No. 6

The smile on David Ragan's face is still a bit uneasy. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

Ford, has yet to announce a decision about its 2012 plans.

Ragan was the guest on this week’s NASCAR teleconference, and naturally some of the questions were about his future. He replied, truthfully, that the negotiations between his race team and his sponsor are out of his area of responsibility, so he’s focusing on what he can do with his race team and his race car.

He also expressed his appreciation for his car owner and for the opportunities he’s gotten.

“From Day One when Jack gave me an opportunity that I probably didn’t deserve, being a young kid, not having a full Nationwide Series or not having a full Truck Series underneath my belt, being promoted to the No. 6 car in ’07, he probably went out on a limb and he certainly put me with some good people on the years,” he said.

But there have been some rough moments on the tracks, especially in the early going, and some disappointing ones in recent years.

“There for a while, I did tear a lot of stuff up, made some bad decisions,” Ragan said. “The last couple years, we really weren’t fast enough to tear anything up. We were just slow. We didn’t compete as well as we should have.

“That’s not something that I can go and turn around. It’s one thing if I’m spinning out every qualifying session or spinning out every lap of the race. The last year or two, no worries. We’re just working so hard trying to get our cars back faster.”

Ragan said he’s following Roush’s advice when it comes to his future and other big issues.

“Jack tells you just to focus, don’t mess up,” he said. “He always reminds you, don’t mess

David Ragan has been tracking success his whole life. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

up. Jack told me a long time ago, he said, You’re the driver of the No. 6 car. You’re young, you’ve got talent. That’s why you’re here. Just remember that and don’t think about what happens if I get shuffled to another team, what happens if I get let go, get injured. Don’t think about that stuff. Just get caught up in the moment, do your deal, and it’s going to work out.”

Among those who are wishing Ragan well is another guy who knows what it’s like to go winless for a long stretch.

“Real proud and happy for him,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after Ragan’s Daytona victory. “He’s a good guy. He’s a really nice guy, plays by the rules. He runs hard and is trying to do the best he can and keep himself a job, man, so this ought to help him out.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 15 2011
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