While most of the NASCAR world’s attention Sunday evening was focused on which of the Cup Series’ Championship 4 drivers would leave Miami with the title, the full-time Cup careers of two drivers quietly came to an end.
After being recognized by NASCAR President Steve Phelps in the drivers meeting, Ragan’s 470th Cup start ended with a 27th-place finish, while Menard’s 471st start ended with a 17th-place run.
While Menard finished one lap down, Ragan’s night ended with him four laps off the lead pace.
“Our last race was really uneventful,” Ragan said afterward. “We tried some strategy a few times and it kind of bit us. We probably lost a lap or two that we shouldn’t have, but we were being aggressive because we didn’t really have anything to lose. I can’t say enough about everybody at Front Row Motorsports and the NASCAR industry for making this last weekend special. It was a tough season. I wish we had some better results to show for it, but the last season won’t dictate my 13-year career. We’ve had a lot of fun, a lot of good memories and don’t regret anything that we’ve done. I’ll sleep good tonight and think a little bit over the offseason on what I want to do next year and I’m sure I’ll be around.”
To top off the occasion, soon after he exited his No. 38 Ford for the last time, Ragan swapped out his racing helmet for another form of head gear that properly conveyed his new job description, or lack thereof: a dark blue hat with the word “retired” emblazoned on it.
As for Menard, no quotes were available from the typically quiet driver after the race.
But not long before the start of Sunday’s race, the Wood Brothers Racing Twitter account produced a lengthy tweet storm thanking Menard and his family for their contributions to NASCAR and auto racing in general over the years.