David Ragan finishes first week in Kyle Busch’s car 18th at Atlanta


HAMPTON, Ga. – A chaotic week ended with an up-and-down day for David Ragan.

Ragan finished 18th Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his first race in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Ragan drove for Kyle Busch, who suffered a broken leg and foot in an Xfinity crash last weekend at Daytona International Speedway. No timetable has been set for Busch’s return but JGR’s plan is to have Ragan run nine races.

Ragan started well Sunday and ran in the top 10 briefly about a third of the way through the 325-lap race.

“I was really thrilled the first 100 laps of the race,’’ Ragan said after debriefing with crew chief Adam Stevens. “Track position means a lot at any race. As we fell back a little bit, I think it was kind of a snowball effect. We were just probably a little behind on our adjustments. That’s probably just my inexperience with these guys and being a little timid on making a few adjustments.’’

The result was that as the track collected more rubber, Ragan fought his car’s loose condition more and fell back.

“We had to take pretty big swings to get back,’’ said Ragan, who started 17th. “I was happy at the end of the race. We had some good speed but had lost too much ground.

“We can run better than that. We’ve got some really good guys. Our first weekend kind of knocked the rust off all of us and I’l be able to get back and debrief a little bit and hopefully have a calmer week. I think that this week will go a lot smoother and (I’m) looking forward to Las Vegas.’’