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Feb 15, 2013 - 08:07 PM
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2013 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - David Ragan
Posted by: ASkyler on Feb 15, 2013 - 08:04 PM
2013 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - David Ragan

DAVID RAGAN - No. 34 Peanut Patch Ford Fusion -- DO YOU GET ANY JITTERS OR BUTTERFLIES THIS TIME OF YEAR? "I think that Daytona is such a spread out event that you have qualifying practice, qualifying. You can use the car as your mentality for the race because you have your Duel race on Thursday, and you have just so much stuff over a long period of time that those butterflies kind of go away. If it was more a traditional weekend, where you came in on a Friday and practiced, qualified and raced a day later, it would be a little more antsy the first race of the year and the biggest race of our season. But being that Daytona is a long event, it definitely helps lessen those jitters, so to speak. That’s usually not an issue for me."

DO YOU GET THOSE FEELINGS FOR EVERY RACE? "There are points over the weekend where you do feel the adrenaline rush in you and you get excited. I think on the qualifying lap at short tracks for me, because you have to hit your marks, the qualifying lap goes by so fast and even at some of the mile-and-a-half races, you get one lap before your tires give away the grip and you’ve got to hit your marks because the lap is over in 18, 20, 22 seconds. There are points throughout the year where you get that, but it’s not a consistent thing every week."


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WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF RACING AS A CHILD? "My first impression about racing was that it was exciting. Going to the local short track where I grew up, it was a dirt track and my dad was racing some. My uncle owned a car I raced and I just remember the fun. That was a treat for me. If I was good throughout the week and didn’t have any teachers call home and talk to my parents, I could go to the race track, so it was very much a treat for me. And then I can remember the first time I was at a superspeedway. That was at Atlanta and it was before they reconstructed it and just seeing all the grandstands. The place was huge, and then the first NASCAR race you get to go to. I think the first NASCAR weekend I really remember was Rockingham back some time in the mid-nineties. But everything was exciting and everything was big when you’re a kid."

WHAT AREAS DO YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO THE BEST ON THE CIRCUIT? "That’s one of the perks of being a NASCAR driver competing week-in and week-out is being able to travel some and having some fun. My wife likes going around Sonoma. I’m not a wine drinker at all, but I do enjoy going out there and touring some of the facilities, but every place has a special little area that’s neat. Coming down to Daytona, you feel like you’ve seen everything that you can see of Daytona Beach and then every year you find a new restaurant or a new little place and say, ‘I never knew this place was here.’ I enjoy coming to Daytona. Vegas is a lot of fun. It’s a great stop. Pocono, there’s a lot of cool stuff to do around Pocono, so it’s fun because you can find something knew about a venue every time you go."

YOU RECENTLY GOT MARRIED. HOW HARD IS IT TO BE A DRIVER AND BE MARRIED? "It’s difficult to be married and be a race car driver because of traveling and being away from each other a lot, but it would be even more difficult to have kids and try to raise a family. I can’t imagine doing that. Your wife and mom has to carry a lot of weight on her shoulders taking care of her family, and you do have to have different roles back and forth, so these guys like Jeff Burton or Jimmie Johnson, who have kids, kudos to them for making it happen and kudos to their wives for being good moms and being able to make it happen."

WHO IS THE MOST COMPETITIVENESS AMONG THE DRIVERS IN YOUR OPINION? "I think the most competitive driver is tough to say. Every driver has a competitive nature to him. That’s why we compete in this sport and that’s what motivates you to get to the next race. In other sporting events, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of winning. There are two teams playing, but here you can win three races in a season and that would be a good season, so it’s a lot different. If you’re on a basketball team, you better win 60-70 times throughout the year, so that keeps you motivated and hungry for that win. Everyone is very competitive and I think it’s tough to pick out that one person. Different people show it in different ways, but I think you see Kyle and Kurt Busch, they show it when they’re not happy. They’re very competitive, so you’d have to say those two guys, but that’s not to say the guy that finishes 43rd doesn’t have a competitive nature to him."

DAVID RAGAN CONTINUED … HOW ABOUT OTHER AREAS LIKE POKER OR THINGS AWAY FROM THE TRACK? "We’ll play some friendly card games and there’s a competitive spirit with who can fly back home the fastest. Who can get to the airport the quickest after the race. Who has the fastest golf cart? We all want to better one another, but when it comes to being fast, whether you’re racing a charity go-kart race or you’re racing your Super Late Model on an off-weekend, you want to be the best and that’s what keeps us all motivated."

ANYTHING COME TO MIND SPECIFICALLY? "A lot of times it’s just leaving the race track. You see another driver and maybe you’re in a different lane or your merging and trying to get to the airport - you’re not gonna let him in and he doesn’t want to let you in, so you’re always thinking about that regardless of the situation."

WHAT IS YOUR PASSENGER VEHICLE OF CHOICE? "I drive an F-150 every day. I have a Ford Ranger - a 1998 Ford Ranger that I had in high school. I’ll still drive that some. I sold my family driver a few years ago, which was another F-150, and I just drove my Ranger for a year, so I didn’t get another car for a while, and then one of the Ford guys said, ‘Hey man, you need to drive something a little newer if you’re gonna be a Ford Racing driver,’ so I try to keep a new vehicle - but I am a Ford guy, a Ford truck guy."

WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON WHY FORD HASN’T WON A DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP IN SO LONG? "I think just the shear numbers of competitors has put Ford at a disadvantage. We haven’t had the number of drivers, the percentage of full-time Ford Racing Sprint Cup drivers are less than the other manufacturers. I don’t know how that really happened. If you look back in the nineties, Ford had more cars than anybody else, so just from a numbers standpoint, I don’t know the percentages, but we had I think the smallest group of Ford full-time drivers - probably less than everyone else but Dodge. There are several reasons. The tides have been turned just a little. I think Biffle could have won in ’05 and Carl very much could have won two years ago. There could have been two or three other wins if things would have shifted one way or the other, but that’s a good question. I know that bothered me being a Ford Racing driver, a Ford family and a Ford dealer. The racing guys don’t like it and we’ve got to do something about it."

DO YOU NEED MORE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE TEAMS OR NOT? "I think that helps. Interaction between all of the teams helps. You want to have a friendly rivalry that keeps everyone motivated and working hard. It pushes one team to excel in front of the others, and the addition of Penske Racing will certainly do that. I’ve been in the Sprint Cup Series for the last five or six years and Roush has been the Ford team and all of the emphasis fed off of those guys back when Yates Racing was there, so when Roush was strong, everyone else was strong. But if Roush had an off year or two, they had no other teams to fall back on, so I think by bringing in some new blood, that will make the rivalry more competitive. And then for us at Front Row Motorsports, we’re a few years out from being able to compete on a more consistent level. We’re not a championship contending team by no means today, but in the next four or five years, if we make the right decisions and have the right plan in place, we could be there in five years."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DANICA-RICKY SITUATION? "I’m just kind of an innocent bystander watching like everyone else will. I think it’s fun. It’s probably blown up a little bit more than it should have, but two individuals dating in a top level sport is unheard of. It’s a unique sport we’re in because both men and women are equal when you put the helmet on, so time will tell. It will be fun and I guess it will be something 10 years down the road we can look back on in our 2013 yearbook and read something about."

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