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David Ragan to race a truck for first time since 2006

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Former NASCAR Cup driver David Ragan will come out of retirement to race in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Richmond Raceway on April 18.

The 34-year-old Ragan will drive the No. 17 Ford F-150 for DGR-Crosley, the team announced Wednesday. The truck will be sponsored by Select Blinds.

The race marks the first time Trucks have raced at the ¾-mile track since 2005. It also will be Ragan’s first time in a truck since 2006.

Even though he has stepped away from full-time racing, Ragan is still keeping busy, including moving into a development role with Ford Performance, where he assists teams with simulator work and is also part of the development team for the NextGen car that will debut in 2021.

“I’m really looking forward to racing one of DGR-Crosley’s F-150’s at Richmond,” Ragan said in a media release. “I’ve been friends with David (team co-owner David Gilliland) for a long time, and I see how much work he’s putting into this team and the success they’ve had early on.

“They have a shop full of great people and I’m glad that we could make all this happen.”

Ragan has over 30 combined Cup, Xfinity and Truck series starts at Richmond. Next month’s race will be his second start of the year, having finished fourth in the season-opening Daytona 500 driving for Rick Ware Racing.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced in the Truck Series, and I’m incredibly thankful to Select Blinds for supporting me and allowing me to do this,” Ragan said. “This is what I wanted to do when I decided to stop racing full-time at the end of last season; I want to race in different series, with different teams.

“Obviously, we want to be competitive, and I have no doubt that DGR-Crosley will bring me a great truck. Richmond has always been one of my favorite tracks that we race at; hopefully, we can get the folks from Select Blinds another good finish this year and put on a good show for the fans.”

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Kyle Petty Charity Ride announces 2020 route

Photo: Kevin Kane Photography
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For the first time in its history, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America will begin and end in the same city.

The route for the 26th annual ride was revealed Tuesday. It will begin May 2 in Phoenix and end there on May 8. The route will travel across Arizona and Utah.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty will be joined by 200 participants, including 25 new riders, on the 1,500-mile journey. Among the trip’s highlights will be lapping the track at Phoenix Raceway, riding historic Route 66, visiting Grand Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The ride raises funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic and serious medical illnesses. Last year’s Ride raised $1.7 million and sent 128 children to Victory Junction. The Ride has raised more than $19 million in the past 25 years.

The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is sponsored by Cox Automotive.

“A core tenet of the Cox values is to be a force for good in the world through a culture of giving back,” said Janet Barnard, chief people officer, Cox Automotive, in a statement. “The Ride’s support of Victory Junction has long been in alignment with these values that both Manheim, as a past presenting sponsor, and Cox Automotive share. We are proud to be affiliated with other great organizations and companies who provide life-changing support to children.”

Here is this year’s route:

May 2 — Phoenix to Lake Havasu City, Arizona

May 3 — Lake Havasu City, Arizona to Flagstaff, Arizona

May 4 — Flagstaff, Arizona to Bryce Canyon City, Utah

May 5 — Free Day

May 6 — Bryce Canyon City, Utah to Monument Valley, Utah

May 7 — Monument Valley, Utah to Sedona, Arizona

May 8 — Sedona, Arizona to Phoenix Arizona

Among the celebrities scheduled to participate are: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, NASCAR legends Harry Gant, Hershel McGriff and Donnie Allison, former NASCAR driver David Ragan, former racer Max Papis, former NFL great Herschel Walker and NASCAR on NBC’s Krista Voda and Rutledge Wood.

“In the past, I haven’t been able to participate for the full duration of the Ride. But when Kyle first told me about this year’s route, I said I was going to clear my schedule to be there for the whole thing because I wanted to see all of the places on the list,” said Kyle’s father, Richard Petty in a statement. “My wife Lynda and I spent a lot of time in the Southwest and it was a special place for us. I’m excited to see some of those places again and share them with Kyle.”

Keep up with Petty and the Ride on social media at the following accounts:

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.”

and on Facebook.

Power Rankings: Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin a unanimous No. 1

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This season’s debut of NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings was similar to the Daytona 500: a wild affair.

Our NASCAR writers chose 16 different drivers after the opening weekend of racing across all three of NASCAR’s top series. There were several surprises, for sure.

Not surprisingly, though, was Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin as the unanimous choice for the top spot in the rankings.

Here’s how we called ‘em:

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): While the prevailing thought is that luck plays a key role in how a driver finishes in the Daytona 500, consider what Hamlin has done — three wins in the last five races and six top-five finishes in the last seven 500s. That ain’t luck.

2. Ryan Newman (30): Was only seconds away from his second Daytona 500 win before his horrific crash. Finished third in his qualifying race and was fifth in the Busch Clash. He and Kyle Larson were the only drivers to score a top 10 in all three events during Speedweeks.

3. Ryan Blaney (26 points): Was in position to win the Daytona 500. Would have given him back-to-back wins at speedway tracks after his victory at Talladega in last year’s playoffs.

4. Kyle Larson (24): Came close to winning his first career Daytona 500. Joined Ryan Newman as the only driver to score top 10s in the Clash, their qualifying race and the Daytona 500.

5. Chris Buescher (22): Had a strong showing and career-best Daytona finish in his return to Roush Fenway Racing. His third-place finish marked his second top five in the 500 in the last three years.

(tie) 6. David Ragan (15): What a way to go into retirement from the Cup Series. In his last Cup start, Ragan finished fourth, his best showing in the 500 (he won the 2011 summer Daytona race). Happy trails to the Georgia native in retirement.

(tie) 6. Kevin Harvick (15): If there had been another lap or two left and had it not been for Ryan Newman’s frightening wreck, the man known as “the closer” may very well have stolen the win away from Hamlin.

8. Clint Bowyer (13): Placed third in the Clash and sixth in the 500, not a bad way to start the season.

9. Chase Elliott (10): Even though he finished 17th, Elliott had some strong segments during the race, including leading 23 laps. Trailed off in the closing laps; otherwise he may have wound up with a top 10.

10: Brad Keselowski (7): Led 30 laps and had one of the fastest cars in the field but was collected in the big wreck on Lap 183. Still, a strong start for Keselowski and his new crew chief, Jeremy Bullins.

Others receiving votes: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5), Noah Gragson (5 points), Joey Logano (3), John Hunter Nemechek (3), Corey LaJoie (1), Grant Enfinger (1).

Ross Chastain will replace Ryan Newman in the No. 6 at Las Vegas

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Ross Chastain has been chosen to drive the No. 6 Ford at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while Ryan Newman recovers from injuries sustained during his last-lap wreck in Monday’s Daytona 500.

In a statement earlier Wednesday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that Newman had left Halifax Medical Center after being treated and released.

In the release to announce Chastain’s hiring “starting at Las Vegas,” the team said “there is no timetable for Newman’s return. Additional updates will be provided as they become available.”

Chastain has enjoyed success at Las Vegas, earning his first career victory in the Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile track on Sept. 15, 2018. He is slated to drive a full-time season in Xfinity this year with Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet and will be pulling double-duty in Cup and Xfinity at Las Vegas.

“The NASCAR community has long prided itself on being a close-knit family,” Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark said in the release. “That is never more evident than during these types of moments, and we want to express our appreciation to everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing as well as Kaulig Racing for allowing Ross to fill in for Ryan in the No. 6 on such short notice.”

Former Roush Fenway driver David Ragan, who finished fourth in the Daytona 500, also seemed a likely candidate for the ride. But Ragan indicated in a humorous tweet Wednesday morning that he was committed to remaining retired after announcing last year that 2019 would be his last full-time season.