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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2009 Season Review: David Ragan

2009 Ride: No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2009 Primary Sponsor(s): UPS, UPS Freight (two races); Boys and Girls Club of America (one race)
2009 Owners: Jack Roush and John Henry
2009 Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig

Stats: 36 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s, 4 DNFs, 27th in points
Best Finish: 6th – Daytona 500
Average Finish: 24.4

High Point: You know a driver’s season is rough when their high point of success occurs in the opening race. David Ragan experienced this premature zenith in the Daytona 500, finishing sixth in the No. 6 UPS Ford. That led to hopes for a Chase-contending season, but little did we know Ragan’s only other top 10 in 2009 would not come until 29 races later… a seventh in the fall Fontana race.

Low Point: There were many troughs in the results column during Ragan’s season, but the lowest point was three consecutive 33rd-place finishes that occurred in the fall Atlanta, Richmond and Loudon races. With Roush deciding on crew chief Jimmy Fennig’s future with the company, that stretch heading into the Chase was probably what sealed his fate.

Summary: When Ragan sits with his grandkids and reminisces over his racing career, he may skip over the Sprint Cup portion of 2009. Ragan and the No. 6 team were at the bottom of a struggling Roush Fenway barrel, and the results showed it. After beginning the year with a sixth-place run in the Daytona 500, he did not score another top 15 until the season’s ninth race in Talladega – another plate race. One of the few bright spots for the young driver shined that same weekend, as young Ragan scored his first NASCAR national touring series win in the Nationwide Series race. Ragan won an additional Nationwide race this year at Bristol in August.

But sans a top 15 here or there, Ragan had a dismal season as he and the UPS team floundered outside the top 25 in points. Ragan’s lackluster runs were magnified by the fact that he almost made the Chase last season, on the strength of six top fives and 14 top 10s. Chris Andrews, a Roush engineer and former crew chief at Richard Childress Racing and Evernham Motorsports, assisted crew chief Fennig for several races midway through the season to help create synergy between Ragan’s feedback and the engineering department – but it didn’t work.

Another point of concern for Ragan was his lack of car control. Ragan regressed in his progress in 2009, making many on-track mistakes reminiscent of his rookie season in ’07. While handling is to blame for much of this past season’s struggles, Ragan has to learn to not overdrive his No. 6 Ford if he wants to be successful when Roush Fenway straightens itself out.

2009 Team Ranking: 5 – Ragan was ranked lowest out of the five Roush Fenway teams in points and ran worse than his teammates on most occasions.

Off-Track News: Ragan, unlike some drivers, does not have a closet full of conspicuous side projects. He does, however, own a race shop and has built a few late models and Legends cars that he and his buddy Chris Dilbeck drive. Ragan also remains good buddies with former Lowe’s Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler and was a mentor at his program “Humpy’s Heroes,” a driver development program similar to the old Roush “Gong Show.” He also spars with him in the boxing ring from time to time.

2010 Outlook: Ragan’s Cup crew chief for the first three seasons, Fennig, moves from his spot atop the No. 6 box to an R&D role at Roush Fenway. Donnie Wingo replaces him, moving over from the now-defunct No. 26 team. Wingo is a reliable hand, having led rookie Juan Pablo Montoya to victory at Infineon in 2007 and Jamie McMurray to the winner’s circle at Talladega this year. If he’s able to help RFR figure out the sour handling condition of its Fords, Ragan stands to improve at least somewhat in 2010.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: D+
2008 Grade: B+
2009 Grade: D+

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