Michael Waltrip Racing looks to David Ragan to help turn around organization’s season

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup season is not a third of the way complete, but David Ragan will be with his third different team of the year this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Ragan takes over the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing after running the No. 34 for Front Row Motorsports in the Daytona 500 and nine races in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing in place of an injured Kyle Busch. Ragan will be with MWR the rest of the season, and Waltrip says he’s looking forward to what the two-time Cup winner can bring to the struggling two-car team.

“We feel like his input will help Clint (Bowyer) have a faster car and vice versa,’’ Waltrip told NASCAR Talk. “If David can go out and outperform Clint, that will push Clint to outperform David, and we need that kind of friendly competition among our divers. That will validate David’s information.’’

Michael Waltrip Racing has had three top-10 finishes this season. Bowyer placed seventh in the Daytona 500 and ninth at Richmond. Brett Moffitt finished eighth at Atlanta in the No. 55 car.

The organization only has two top-20 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas) heading into this weekend’s race at another 1.5-mile track.

“We do think with Brett’s help from the time we left Texas, which was a real struggle for our organization, to Saturday night at Kansas, we’ve gained a lot,’’ Waltrip said. “We’ve made our cars better. We think the engine under the hood from Toyota will be strong. We think we’ll really make some headway at Kansas.’’

Ragan, who will be the fourth driver in the No. 55 car this season, also is looking to snap a recent slide. Ragan was 10th in the points after last month’s Texas race but is 20th heading to Kansas. He placed 41st at Bristol after he was collected in a crash, finished two laps down in 23rd at Richmond and was caught in a crash at Talladega, placing 38th, to fall in the points.

“That can come back around to other people,’’ Ragan said at Talladega. “We could go out and win Kansas and our lives would be easy. You just never know what the next lap or the next race will bring.’’

Results for the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing this season

Race – Finish (Driver)

Daytona 500 – 26th (Michael Waltrip)

Atlanta – 8th (Brett Moffitt)

Las Vegas – 15th (Brian Vickers)

Phoenix – 41st (Brian Vickers)

Auto Club – 22nd (Brett Moffitt)

Martinsville – 28th (Brett Moffitt)

Texas – 29th (Brett Moffitt)

Bristol – 17th (Brett Moffitt)

Richmond – 29th (Brett Moffitt)

Talladega – 36th (Michael Waltrip)

 

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace Jr.’s search for a ride continues (video)

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s search for a new ride continues.

Wallace joined NASCAR America in-studio on Thursday and talked about his recent fill-in role at Richard Petty Motorsports during Aric Almirola‘s crash recovery, as well as his hope that a new ride will come around soon.

Wallace also weighed in on Alex Bowman being selected Thursday to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet and what it means for the young generation of drivers.

Find out what Bubba had to say in the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What happens to Brad Keselowski now that 88 ride has been filled? (video)

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Amid all the news about Alex Bowman replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Team Hendrick Chevrolet next season, one thing was kind of overlooked.

Rumors had floated throughout the sport the last several weeks about Brad Keselowski being a possible candidate to replace Earnhardt, as well.

Those rumors were only bolstered more by the fact Keselowski has still not signed a contract extension with Team Penske. His current deal runs out at the end of the current Cup season.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan appeared on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America and talked about the various ramifications of the Bowman deal. But Ryan also suggested that with Bowman now in place, will that potentially hasten Keselowski’s re-signing with Team Penske perhaps sooner than later now that the 88 ride is off the table?

“Whether Brad Keselowski was seriously weighing a move to the 88 or whether he was using it as leverage to get a better deal from Team Penske and Ford, this just makes it all the more likely that he will re-sign with Team Penske and stay in the No. 2 Ford next year,” Ryan said.

“It’s very likely that we will hear soon that Brad Keselowski is re-signing with Team Penske. That deal is very close.”

Ryan also discussed whether another driver whose name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Earnhardt, young William Byron, may also score a promotion to the Cup Series with Team Hendrick.

“I think Cup could still be in the cards for next year,” Ryan said of Byron. “Kasey Kahne is under contract in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports for 2018, but he is having a very disappointing season.

“If Hendrick elected to make a change on that ride, it could depend on sponsorship. That ride doesn’t have much sponsorship announced yet for 2018 and William Byron could certainly be an option there.

“He brings some sponsorship from Liberty University, and he also has been sponsored in a few races with Axalta and they really like what he’s done. If he goes to Cup, they really want to be on his car.”