David Ragan still seeking 2016 ride after Michael Waltrip Racing’s closure

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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Soon after the announcement that Michael Waltrip Racing would close at the end of the 2015 season, Clint Bowyer knew where he would be for the next two years.

But while Bowyer has found safe harbor at HScott Motorsports before a move to Stewart-Haas Racing, his teammate for 25 races in 2015, David Ragan, has yet to nail down plans for 2016 in any of NASCAR’s top three divisions.

“I’m still looking for the best opportunity for me for 2016,” Ragan said in a statement Friday. “I’ve had conversations with several teams – some went farther along than others – but haven’t gotten anything locked down yet. I definitely feel like I have a lot to give to a team and, turning 30 later this month, have a lot of racing years left in me.”

Ragan drove MWR’s No. 55 Toyota for the final 25 races of the season as a replacement for Brian Vickers, who missed all but two races because of a recovery from heart surgery and then a recurrence of blood clots. Prior to climbing into the Aaron’s Dream Machine, Ragan drove the No. 18 at Joe Gibbs Racing for eight races while Kyle Busch recovered from his injuries sustained at the beginning of the year.

It is believed that Ragan was a runner-up for the opportunity to drive the No. 9 at Richard Petty Motorsports, but the team announced Brian Scott as its driver Friday morning. Unlike Scott, Ragan didn’t have as much financial backing from sponsors.

“I’m open to competing in any of the three national series in NASCAR, but, for me, it needs to be a competitive team,” said Ragan, who has competed in NASCAR full time since 2007. “I don’t want to put myself in a position where every week is a struggle on track, just so I can say I have a ride. I’m fortunate to have a lot of good relationships in the sport, both among competitors and sponsors, so we’ll keep the conversations going and hopefully be able to put something together for next season.”

Ragan has competed in 326 Sprint Cup races since 2006, driving for Roush Fenway Racing through 2011 before joining the smaller Front Row Motorsports in 2012. The Unadilla, Ga., native has two Sprint Cup wins (2011 Coke Zero 400, 2013 Talladega II) and two Xfinity Series victories.

“I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built with the sponsors I’ve worked with in my career,” Ragan said. “I can definitely say I put my all into being a good ambassador for them in NASCAR, and I think any one of them would tell you that their partnerships with me were successful ones.”

Ragan’s former teammate at Front Row Motorsports, David Gilliland, also is looking for his next opportunity after six years with the team.