2007 Ride: No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2007 Primary Sponsor: AAA Auto Insurance
2007 Owners: Mike Dee (Jack Roush)
2007 Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
2007 Stats: 36 starts, zero wins, two top fives, three top 10s, 23rd in points.
Best Finish: Third, Richmond (September)
High Point: Frankly, Ragan should consider having the opportunity to become a full-time Cup driver his highest point. At the time he was named to replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 last season, Ragan still wasn’t even allowed to race at some of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit due to inexperience.
But any doubts as to whether Ragan was a deserving replacement got settled quickly. He started off at Daytona with a fifth-place finish, mostly because he was able to avoid the melee of wrecking cars coming off turn 4 on the final lap. But luck counts; and just like that, the freshman was immediately off to a solid start.
Unfortunately, that initial boost of momentum gradually tapered off after that; however, Ragan did stun some fans in Richmond when he pulled off a third-place finish in September. He was the only Ford driver and the only rookie to finish inside the top 10 in that race.
Low Point: Spinning out – again, and again, and again. With 22 wrecks and spins (six more than any other driver), it’s a miracle Ragan managed to finish as high in points as he did, as many of those spins left his car shockingly unscathed. In four of those wrecks, he failed to finish, living up to the rookie stripe on his rear bumper instead of his developing maturity. Wrecking also contributed to 21 finishes outside of the top 20 for the No. 6 car.
Summary: Ragan’s rookie season in Cup didn’t start so well, but that’s not uncommon for a 21-year-old trying to race at the top level of this sport. Not only was Ragan running in the Cup Series, but he was also pulling double duty as a rookie in the Busch Series, where he did manage to score Rookie of the Year honors. On the Cup side, that was not to be, as Ragan fell short to the hype, the hoopla, and the stats of fellow first-year Juan Pablo Montoya.
However, Ragan finished the year an impressive 23rd in the standings, ahead of several seasoned veterans and others who have finished in the top 10 in past years. Hopefully, the kid has learned from his mistakes and will be able to use that information to improve in the future.
2008 Outlook: Ragan’s future may not yet be bright enough to break out the shades, but there’s at least a glimmer of hope. With a year of double duty under his belt, Ragan has taken plenty of notes on what to expect at the racetracks and how the cars handle. Roush Fenway Racing also stepped up its testing program on the Car of Tomorrow midseason, and that should only serve to help the No. 6 team heading into 2008. With veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig returning and sponsor AAA signed to a long-term deal, there’s nowhere it seems for Ragan to go but up.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: D+
Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley.