For David Ragan, Martinsville Speedway would be an ideal place to have a season-best performance.
Though it’s been a trying season for Ragan, who is in the closing stages of his first year with BK Racing, this weekend at Martinsville has been a breath of fresh air for more than one reason.
Kicking off with Friday qualifying, the 30-year-old Sprint Cup Series veteran advanced to the final round of qualifying before slotting into the 12th starting spot for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
The result, Ragan’s best since a fifth during his Michael Waltrip Racing tenure last year, was also the best for BK Racing since Richmond in spring of 2014, nearly 100 races ago.
Additionally, Ragan showed the legitimacy of his speed by finishing third and fourth in the final two practice sessions on Saturday.
“I’m not really surprised,” Ragan said regarding the speed. “I really like coming to Martinsville, we ran well here in the spring. Ran great in both races here last year. So, it’s some things we’ve been able to build on.
“Obviously, there are a lot of fast cars that will be in the top 10, top 15. I think we have a top-15 car.
In recent years, the half-mile has almost become expected to see the Georgia native in the top 10 by the end of the day.
In fact, Ragan’s last two top-10 efforts have come at Martinsville, earning a surprise top 10 with Front Row Motorsports in the fall race in 2014 and grabbing his most recent top-5 effort in the spring of 2015, finishing fifth while subbing for Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Though it’s no MWR or JGR under Ragan’s hood this weekend, the No. 23 team, with momentum on their side, has their best shot to earn TV time over the eight remaining Chasers come Sunday.
“It’s good momentum for the team,” Ragan said. “We have four races to go this year so we want to finish the season as strong as we can. The spotlight is on the Chase guys, which it should be, but at the same time we want to race hard and show that we can still have some fun and be competitive at the racetrack.”