NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Nextel Cup Driver Q & A · Tony Lumbis · Monday June 18, 2007
At the start of 2007, David Ragan found himself with the most daunting assignment of all five rookies: driving in place of a future Hall of Famer. Selected to replace Mark Martin in the famed No. 6 Ford at Roush Racing, Ragan has had his share of ups and downs in NASCAR’s top series since then, but through it all, his optimism and confidence have remained high. So high, in fact, that 15 races into the season, he’s become a pleasant surprise in this year’s Rookie of The Year contest; just four points off Juan Pablo Montoya’s pace, the driver of the AAA Ford appears to be the toughest challenge facing the Colombian as they battle for top rookie honors.
Our Tony Lumbis sat down with David Ragan before the Pocono race this June and talked with him about tackling those tough expectations, his own father’s Cup career, getting his big break through television, of all things, and plenty of other topics in this special edition of Beyond The Cockpit.
Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: In 2006, your career appeared to be on track with a clear path in front of you: share the No. 6 Truck with Mark Martin, progress through the Busch Series, and eventually make it to Nextel Cup. Then, at the end of that season, you got the call that you’d be the next driver of the flagship car for Roush Fenway. What went through your mind at that very moment?
David Ragan: It kind of caught me off guard. I was kind of looking forward to a full-time Truck Series or full-time Busch Series run, you know, just happy to be at Roush Fenway Racing with an opportunity to do great things, and I really wasn't looking at this situation. (But) Jack, he had the confidence in me, (along with) Jimmy Fennig and the guys at AAA, so I knew it was my time to step up.
Certainly, it’s been a long road, a tough road at times, but we have a lot of fun. I just knew that it was going to be a lot of hard work, (but) that's the only way things should be and it’s kept me on my toes and working really hard, every single day of the week.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: You're paired with veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who has worked with some of the top drivers in the industry. How has his leadership helped you develop as a driver?
David Ragan: Well, with Jimmy, he reminds me a lot of my Dad. He's here for one reason, and that is to race hard and go fast. You know, my dad (Ken Ragan, former Cup driver himself), he's really driven that into my mind, to really be focused when you're at the race track, and Jimmy is the same way; (there's) not a lot of horseplay, its all business on the track and off the track. So that's been a plus, having him on my side to keep me in line…and certainly, with the new setups and new aero packages and new style of CoT cars, its really important to have a veteran leader on the team where it takes some of the pressure off of me (in terms of) making some of the decisions about the chassis setup. Jimmy and our engineer Mike Bugarewicz, they're the guys with all the answers, so it’s good to have them on our team.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: How does the communication work on race day? Do you let Jimmy make most of the calls, or is it a two-way street?
David Ragan: He (Jimmy) makes all the calls. He'll ask for my input on occasion, but Jimmy knows through experience. That's something that maybe takes a little bit of heat off of me when I'm on the racetrack racing, I don't have to be playing situations out in my mind about pitting. I'll leave that up to Jimmy or (car chief) Bobby Bakeeff, someone like that. All I have to do is worry about taking care of the race car and getting it to the end of the race. So yeah, Jimmy makes all the calls and one day down the road, when I get more comfortable, maybe the second or third time we are going back to these racetracks, my input might mean a little bit more… but right now, Jimmy is the number one man.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: You mentioned your father, Ken, a former Cup driver from the 1980s. What kind of role does he play in your career? Does he give you a lot of advice, or does he lay back, letting you make your own decisions and learn from your own mistakes?
David Ragan: So far, he's laid back and turned his life to the Legends car series, and lets Jack Roush and (General Manager) Max Jones and all the staff at Roush Fenway kind of take care of me. In years past, he's been my number one guy. He's made the decisions and told me what to do and what not to do. If I had a question about if I should drive (a certain) car or (with) setups or something, he was always there, but over the last year or two, he's kind of let off the reins a little and given more control to the guys at Roush.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: Your racing accomplishments in the Bandolero Bandits division, Legends Cars, Goody’s Dash Series and NASCAR Late Model Series caught the eye of Nextel Cup star Mark Martin. Based on your experience, what advice would you give young drivers coming up through some of those same series today who are hoping to receive that same kind of recognition?
David Ragan: Well, there is no certain way to become a Nextel Cup driver. Depending on what area of the United States you're from is going to determine what you're going to race. If you're from the Southeast, it's going to be hard to race any kind of Sprint Car or anything. You're basically going to have to get a Late Model. My dad, we did it on a very tight budget, and we were very fortunate to have Humpy Wheeler and Ed Clark (President and General Manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway) on our side when we were racing the legend cars, it just made it a lot easier, (especially with) my father working with the series. We we're able to race a lot and not spend a lot of our money. The thing is to be smart with what you drive and work extremely hard, and realize if you're going to be a successful race car driver, you basically have to give up everything else other than driving a race car.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: You said you were able to race hard and NOT spend a lot of money. I would think a lot of drivers would want to know how to do that; it's not a simple task.
David Ragan: That's where I'm very fortunate to have my dad. He knew what to do (and) knew a lot of good people and friends that helped him and his racing career that helped me out a lot. We didn't have a ton of money. We didn't have a bunch of race cars. We raced what we had and when we got through a race and were ready to move up, we sold everything and kind of started over again. So it was very good to have someone like my dad on my side to look after things and lead me in the right direction.
The biggest thing is just getting laps and seat time and one day you'll get that shot, whether its testing a Cup car, or a Gong Show (audition), or driving someone's Winston West Car. One day you'll get a shot to impress somebody, and hopefully you've put yourself in the right position.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: Speaking of the Gong Show, how cool was that running for Jack Roush on TV…or was that more of a pressure cooker?
David Ragan: I tried to go in and not let it be a pressure cooker. A lot of guys were getting wound up, and certainly it was an exciting time, but I think you basically had nothing to lose, you had everything to gain. So, if you go in with that mindset of leaving it all out on the line and try your hardest, hopefully something will work out. But that was a fun experience. Certainly, if it wasn't for the Gong Show, I wouldn't be here today. I'd be back racing in an ARCA car or racing my Legends car somewhere. The Gong Show was something myself, Erik Darnell, Danny O'Quinn, and a lot of us are very thankful for.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: Are you still close with Erik and Danny?
David Ragan: We'll still keep in touch. We're all about the same age. Erik is doing a great job in the Trucks and Danny is racing some Busch races for us this year, so it’s really cool that we're all just common racers that wanted to get to this level. Jack Roush gave us an awesome opportunity to come here and do what we love to do and try to and make ourselves better race car drivers for our sponsors and our team. It's been cool to make some good friends along the way.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: It must be nice to put the competition aside for a little bit when hanging out with these guys.
David Ragan: We put it aside for a little, but we're still pretty competitive and want to beat each other as often as we can.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: You mentioned the resources here at Roush Fenway which provides you with four talented teammates, each with very different backgrounds and driving styles. Do you find yourself going to any particular one for advice, or do you spread the wealth pretty evenly?
David Ragan: Matt Kenseth is one of the best race car drivers in the garage. Certainly, you can't overlook Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, but Matt Kenseth is right there with them. He knows when to go hard, when not to. He's very, very smart; he's probably as smart as a lot of the crew chiefs in the garage. So, I've tried to go to Matt, he's got a lot of experience, he's been around for just about the longest. I try to go to him, but I try to talk to everybody that I can. I try to hit Carl, I try to talk to Greg or Jamie a little to see what everybody has got to say. There is no right or wrong answer, but I try to listen to everybody and make my best judgment based off of what they say.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: When you talk to Carl, has he given you any advice on the back flips yet?
David Ragan: No, he's told me that's his deal. I can't steal it, so I've got to come up with maybe some cartwheels or something. It would be pretty tough for me to do a back flip.
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: Speaking of Carl Edwards…you’ve been in those types of awkward situations this year as a rookie where you’re in a wreck and there’s teammates involved, and Edwards was the most recent example of that. However, your Coca-Cola 600 post-wreck quote after the No. 99 slid up in front of you appeared to be very apologetic to him ("I really hate that it had to be my teammate Carl Edwards. I really hate we ruined his night, also.") To most of us, it seemed that it might have been Carl's fault, instead, for going to fast on a flat tire and spinning up in front of you. Did you view the wreck differently?
David Ragan: Certainly, the fact is that if Carl was going slower, he wouldn't have spun out and neither he nor I would've been involved in an accident. But in any case, if someone is spinning or someone is wrecking, it's my job as the race car driver and my spotter's job as the spotter to do our best to avoid it. It was more or less that I was saying that I hate it was Carl. I would rather it be someone else if I had to hit somebody, I just hate that it was one of my own teammates. Certainly, I don't put the blame on anybody. We all make mistakes. Carl was just trying to do the best he could to get back to the pits under bad circumstances, and it's our job as race car drivers to try to avoid situations like that. It's just a shame that it had to be Carl. Maybe it was just our destiny that night to get involved in something. I just wish it would have been one of the Chevrolets (smiles).
Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: Your birthday is on December 24th, the day before Christmas. How frustrating was it growing up knowing that you had to get all of your presents for the year in one shot? Or was it actually better because you got twice the amount of loot under the tree?
David Ragan: I learned at a young age that certainly birthdays and Christmas are very exciting times around our house. You just get used to it, you don't know any different if you get Christmas presents (and) birthday presents all in one week. But it’s always a fun time around the house. If it (my birthday) were in July or something, it would interrupt our racing season, so its probably good that it comes in the offseason.
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