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)

 

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Richmond

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The racing weekend at Richmond International Raceway kicks off today.

The NASCAR Cup Series has one practice session and late afternoon qualifying, while the Xfinity Series has two practice sessions at the 0.75-mile track.

Keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson this weekend as he goes for his third consecutive NASCAR Cup win, having taken the checkered flag at Texas three weeks ago and Monday at Bristol.

Here’s how today’s action shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.  – Xfinity garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (Fox Sports 1, MRN)

1 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

4:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying; three rounds/multi-car (FS1, MRN)

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Michigan

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Every NASCAR Cup driver had to come from somewhere, and for Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones, they came from Michigan.

Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” takes you to the Great Lake State.

The track that gets our attention is Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run. A track Jones cut his teeth on and where he set a record in 2010 by becoming the youngest driver to win an ASA Late Model race when he was 14.

Oh, and they also race school buses at the track.

 

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Richmond ‘pivotal’ race for Joe Gibbs Racing

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Compared to the winning pace Joe Gibbs Racing kept the previous two seasons, it’s been a long time since the four-car team visited victory lane.

JGR last won 11 races ago in the November race at Texas Motor Speedway with Carl Edwards, who is not racing this year. The last win by a current JGR driver was the fall race at Richmond International Raceway, where Denny Hamlin triumphed.

Now, none of its drivers are in the top 10 in points.

RIR is where NASCAR heads this weekend for a race NASCAR America analyst Steve Letarte believes is “pivotal” for the team that’s won the last three races at the .75-mile track.

“We have to remember this is a new aerodynamic package for this year,” Letarte said. “There’s something about it that hasn’t really suited this JGR Toyotas. I don’t think they have found exactly the right combination, it seems Furniture Row (Racing) has. I look at Richmond, the speeds are a little bit down, aerodynamics won’t be as dominate. Even if they’re not dominate and they don’t win, they have to run better.”

 

NASCAR America: Comparing achievements of The King, The Intimidator and Jimmie Johnson

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Just two days after his retirement announcement, Dale Earnhardt came to the defense of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson on Twitter

After a fan attempted to criticize Johnson’s achievements by comparing them to fellow seven-time champions Dale Earnahrdt Sr., and Richard Petty, Dale Jr. said the system Johnson has competed in is twice as challenging as the eras of his father and Petty.

Watch the video to see Dale Jr. and other drivers discuss the differences between Johnson’s era and those of his predecessors.