david ragan

NASCAR to move location of car numbers for All-Star Race

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NASCAR will use the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway to experiment with the location of numbers on race cars.

Instead of the traditional location of numbers on car doors, those numbers will be pushed back toward the rear wheel. All teams competing in the All-Star Race and All-Star Open are required to have the car number in this location. The move allocates more space on car sides for sponsors, something teams have requested.

On Wednesday’s Motor Racing Network’s Crew Call, NASCAR president Steve Phelps explained the reason for the change to show host Mike Bagley:

“I think the All-Star (Race) historically has been an opportunity for us to test things, and I think that’s exactly what we’re doing with this,” Phelps said. “Teams have asked us to take a look at this, provide some additional visibility for sponsors, so that’s what we’ll test.”

The change will be for the All-Star Race and All-Star Open only.

“We’ll evaluate it,” Phelps said. “Is it the right thing to do? Is it not the right thing to do? I  know some folks that came out and said ‘this is not for me, I don’t like it,’ so we’ll take that all under consideration and as we move past the All-Star (Race) we’ll see what it looks like moving forward.”

In addition to having another option to increase sponsor visibility on cars, the move of the car number is also seen as a combination of catering to tradition and existing fans along with attracting new fans.

“I think not in every instance, but there are instances where you actually can do both,” Phelps told Bagley. “I don’t think you have to have the two at odds with each other. Sometimes that’s going to happen, but for us, we’ve talked about hearing from the core fans and we do.

“We want to hear from the core fans and what they think, traditional fans. There are certain things we want to try out or we believe is in the best interest in the sport after collaborating with the industry and saying this is something we should test. This is one of those opportunities.

“I don’t know if it appeals to a newer fan vs. a fan for 40 years, the changes in the paint schemes. But again, it’s one race, the All-Star Race, what better time to test it?”

This would not be the first time where car numbers have been placed on areas other than the door. It was a practice for some teams in the early 1950s, according to NASCAR historian Ken Martin, per a story on NASCAR.com.

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Fifteen drivers are locked into the All-Star Race by virtue of wins in 2019 and 2020 (to date): Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley and Matt Kenseth.

There are five opportunities remaining for other drivers to get automatic berths in the All-Star Race field by virtue of winning at any of the five races still to be held prior to the All-Star Race: Talladega, the Pocono doubleheader, Indianapolis and Kentucky.

Several other drivers are eligible to be voted in as part of the NASCAR Fan Vote, currently under way through noon ET July 14. Click here to vote. Drivers are eligible for the Fan Vote by having attempted to qualify for the 2020 Daytona 500.

Those drivers are: Quin Houff, Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Brennan Poole, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chad Finchum, Joey Gase, B.J. McLeod, JJ Yeley, Brendan Gaughan, Timmy Hill, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez.

If any of those drivers win a stage in the NASCAR Open qualifying race prior to the All-Star Race, that driver will be locked into the field and not eligible to be the Fan Vote winner.

One Fan Vote winner has gone on to win the All-Star Race in the event’s history: Kasey Kahne in 2008.

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David Ragan to make first Truck start since 2006 at Atlanta

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David Ragan is coming back and going home at the same time.

The Unadilla, Georgia native, who stepped down from full-time racing after last season, will drive in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Ragan’s home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway, on Saturday, June 6.

The 34-year-old Ragan will drive the No. 17 Ford for DGR-Crosley in his 30th career Truck Series start and his first since 2006.

David Ragan will make his first Truck Series start since 2006 in the June 6 race at his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“I’m really looking forward to racing one of DGR-Crosley’s F-150’s at Atlanta,” Ragan said in a media release. “We were originally going to run the truck at Richmond Raceway in April, but since that race was postponed (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I wanted to return to my home state of Georgia with Select Blinds for this race.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced in the Truck Series. Atlanta has always been one of my favorite tracks since it’s my home track.”

Blake Bainbridge will serve as Ragan’s crew chief. The Atlanta race was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since stepping away from full-time racing, Ragan has made just one start in 2020, finishing fourth in the Daytona 500 for Rick Ware Racing.

Ragan currently works in a development role with Ford Performance, where, according to the media release, “he assists teams with simulator work and has a hand in developing the NextGen car that will come into play in 2022.”

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Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon off to better 2020 starts than Cup champions

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We’re only two races into the the NASCAR Cup Series season and we’re already writing sentences that make us do a double take or spit takes depending on if we’re drinking liquids.

When the green flag dropped on the Daytona 500 last weekend, we were not expecting the following stat to be staring back at us after Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Through two races, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, the retired David Ragan and part-time driver Brendan Gaughan each have more top-10 finishes than defending champion Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, former champion Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Aric Almirola and William Byron.

Put simply, the second batch of drivers – which includes 3/4ths of Joe Gibbs Racing – has none, while a group of typically midpack cars and partially retired drivers have at least one apiece.

That’s due to a combination of DNFs, poor performances and wrecks among the latter group.

Busch hasn’t finished better than 15th. Elliott’s best finish was 17th in the Daytona 500. Truex’s best was 20th Sunday while Jones’ is 18th (Daytona) and Almirola’s is 21st (Las Vegas).

Not counting the 2015 season when he missed 11 races due to injury, Busch has failed to finish in the top 10 in the first two races five times in his full-time career (since 2005). The latest he’s earned a top 10 was in 2010 (Bristol, race No. 5).

Last year, Busch started the season with 11 straight top 10s.

He now heads to Auto Club Speedway, where he’s won three of the last six races – including last year – and he’s finished outside the top 10 just once in his last eight races there.

This is the sixth time Truex hasn’t earned a top 10 in the first two races of the season in his full-time career (since 2007). He goes to Auto Club Speedway having finished eighth or better in four of his last five starts at the 2-mile track (including one win).

After the chaos produced by the final round of pit stops and restart, Wallace placed sixth Sunday, earning his best finish on a 1.5-mile track and his fifth career top-10 finish. He was among the drivers who did not pit under the final caution.

“We had a shot at a good finish and we capitalized on that,” Wallace said. “All-in-all, it was a good day and a win for us. It was just a good gamble call. We were terrible on restarts. It would take us 10 or 15 laps just to get going and get the car underneath us. Then, we could start fighting our way up there.”

Wallace also credited new crew chief Jerry Baxter for the result. Baxter was Wallace’s crew chief in the Truck Series when he won multiple races.

“There were frustrating moments over the radio, just trying to make this Coke Energy Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE better,” Wallace said. “I know how I lose my cool a little bit, but one of the main reasons I brought Jerry Baxter in was to calm me down and show that light at the end of the tunnel. Every time I fired back, he said ‘I get it, you’re fine, we’re going to be fine’ and he was right. It was a good call by the team and everyone involved.”

Dillon pitted for four tires during the last caution and was able to snag a 10th-place finish after a “nuts” restart. It’s his first top 10 on a 1.5-mile track. Sunday was his 128th Cup Series start.

“I think I restarted 19th and went through the middle, and we ended up 10th,” Dillon said. “I don’t really know what happened, but we just started passing cars. You just had to find the lane, and you’re processing things at such a high rate of speed. You just had to be committed to where you were going.”

The result was Germain Racing’s first top 10 on a non-superspeedway oval.

“That’s what makes NASCAR fun,” Dillon added. “Nobody just dominates everything anymore. It was a really fun race and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”

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David Ragan stepping back from driving full time after 2019 season

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After 13 consecutive seasons in NASCAR’s premier series, David Ragan will make 2019 his last as a full-time driver.

In a release Wednesday morning from Front Row Motorsports, Ragan, 33, said he will continue to race part time in NASCAR.

“I’ve prayed and heavily considered this decision, but for myself and my family, I believe this is the right thing to do,” the No. 38 Ford driver said. “I am a husband and a father to two young girls first, and I am a driver second.

“To compete in what I consider the greatest series in the world, you need full dedication of your time and focus. My children are growing up quickly, and I want to concentrate my time in being the best father and husband I can be. I feel this is where God is leading my life, and therefore I’m making this decision.”

Ragan later posted a video on Twitter explaining his decision.

Ragan’s rookie Cup season was in 2007 with Roush Fenway Racing. He scored his first Cup victory in the No. 6 Ford with Roush in the July 2, 2011 race at Daytona International Speedway.

He won again on May 5, 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway, delivering the first win for Front Row (which he joined in 2012) in one of the biggest NASCAR upsets in recent history.

Ragan also drove for Joe Gibbs Racing (as a fill-in for Kyle Busch) and Michael Waltrip Racing in 2015 and BK Racing in 2016.

Front Row Motorsports, which also fields cars for Michael McDowell and Matt Tifft, plans to field the No. 38 next season and has begun evaluating candidates to replace Ragan in 2020.

In 457 Cup starts, Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 40 top 10s. He finished a career-best 13th in the 2008 points standings.

Over 107 Xfinity starts, he has two wins (Talladega Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, both in 2009), 17 top fives and 49 top 10s.

Here’s the release from Front Row:

MOORESVILLE N.C. (August 14, 2019) – David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports announced today that Ragan will step away from full-time NASCAR competition after this season.  Ragan will continue to race on a part-time basis in NASCAR and other series at his desire.

Ragan, 33, began competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2007 with Roush Fenway Racing after finding success in the now NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.  He has 457 starts in the premier Cup Series heading into this weekend’s race with a total of two wins, 40 Top-10 and 15 Top-five finishes.  Ragan’s last Cup win was the first for Front Row Motorsports.  He also has two poles in the Cup series.

These stats accompany two wins in the Xfinity Series and one win the ARCA Menards Series.  In addition, Ragan was the 2007 NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year.

A statement from Ragan:

“I’ve prayed and heavily considered this decision, but for myself and my family, I believe this is the right thing to do.  I am a husband and a father to two young girls first, and I am a driver second. To compete in what I consider the greatest series in the world, you need full dedication of your time and focus. My children are growing up quickly, and I want to concentrate my time in being the best father and husband I can be.  I feel this is where God is leading my life, and therefore I’m making this decision.

“There aren’t enough words to thank everyone who has helped me in my career and to all the fans who have supported me in this journey. It’s not over, but I’m ready to spend more time at home.”

A statement from Bob Jenkins, owner, Front Row Motorsports:

“We admire David for making what I’m sure was a very difficult decision.  We also commend him for his reason.  David has always put family first, and as a father, I understand what it’s like to not be at that game or big event for your child.  Throughout his time at Front Row Motorsports, David has always gone beyond what was asked of him- or even volunteering his own time to help grow our team.  Now it’s time for him to give some of that back to his family and we totally support that.  Our doors are always open for David and we’ll miss seeing him every week.”

The team will announce the driver plans of the No. 38 Ford Mustang team when ready.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. triumphs at Daytona, snatching win from upset contender David Ragan

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his second consecutive restrictor-plate race, capturing the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Stenhouse snatched the lead from David Ragan on an overtime restart and led the final two laps in his No. 17 Ford. It’s the second career victory for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, who won at Talladega Superspeedway in May.

“This validates what we did at Talladega,” Stenhouse said. “I want to first off thank all the troops that have fallen for our country, for our freedom. That is most important right now. “We have been working hard at Roush Fenway and this pushes us further along.”

Clint Bowyer finished second, followed by Paul Menard, Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman. Ragan, who was trying to qualify underdog Front Row Motorsports for the playoffs for the second consecutive season, finished a season-best sixth in a race filled with multicar crashes.

“I zigged when I should have zagged,” said Ragan, who chose the inside lane for the restart despite the oustide lane being fast and then missed a chance to throw a block on Stenhouse after pulling away from second-place Ty Dillon.

The race featured a record 14 caution flags involving 27 drivers, and several of the fastest cars were eliminated early.

Pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the Turn 1 wall on the 52nd lap after getting hit by Menard because Earnhardt had slowed with an apparent flat tire.

After falling two laps down for repairs, he climbed back to the lead lap and into the top 10 when he was collected in a four-car crash resulting from a spin by Kevin Harvick, who led three times for seven laps before a cut tire ended his race.

A seven-car wreck on Lap 153 featured Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet getting airborne and a heavy hit for Kurt Busch (neither was injured).

 A 10-car crash on Lap 71 that began with a cut tire for Kyle Busch eliminated Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon.

Defending race winner Brad Keselowski, whose No. 2 Ford led a race-high 35 laps, hit the wall with another cut tire on Lap 117, finishing 31st.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

STAGE 2 WINNER: Matt Kenseth

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Michael McDowell finished a career-best fourth. … Brendan Gaughan‘s seventh was his best showing since a sixth in the 2004 season finale. … Corey LaJoie earned a career-best 11th. … Ty Dillon led seven laps and was in front on a restart with two laps remaining in the scheduled distance. … JTG Daugherty Racing earned top 10s with drivers A.J. Allmendinger (eighth) and Chris Buescher (10th).

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Where to start? With 40 laps, five of the prerace favorites with the fastest cars (Harvick, Truex, Keselowski, Earnhardt, Logano and Truex) were out. … Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch were eliminated by crashes after running well. … Danica Patrick crashed out of a race for the sixth time this season. … Ryan Sieg, DJ Kennington and Cole Whitt were out within the first 15 laps because of problems related to engine trouble.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We just blew a tire. That’s the way it goes. It just blew out right in the middle of the corner. I hate to wreck half the field. That’s a part of what we do.” — Harvick

WHAT’S NEXT: The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 8 on NBCSN