David Ragan enters this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Orton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in hopes of his third top-10 of 2017.
The Front Row Motorsports driver took some time to speak with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about his thoughts on the year so far.
PS: How would you characterize your season so far?
DR: We’ve had an okay first half of the season. We’ve had a few great runs, some good runs, and we’ve had some poor days at the race track. It’s up to us to identify some of our weak points, and address them as we move forward throughout the year, and try to minimize mistakes on our behalf to clean up some of the bad days. But I’m proud of our team for the success that we’ve had as we’ve done a lot of good things on and off the race track, but there’s always room for improvement.
PS: Where do you feel your team needs to improve?
DR: I think we can get better with our mile and a half program. That’s always been a weak point for some of the smaller teams, because that’s where every part of racecar – from the body, to the engine, to everything comes into play all together. So we’ve got to continue to maximize our downforce and work on our aerodynamic package, and get our cars to handle a little bit better. With the mile and a half downforce high-speed tracks making up most of the schedule, it’s very important to have that turning that in the right direction.
I think our short track cars and super speedway cars have been pretty competitive, but we can make improvement on our mile and a half cars.
PS: Going back a couple weeks now. Running up front in the final laps at Daytona, what do you feel you could have done differently looking back at that to get the win?
DR: I think that at the end of the race, everybody is really aggressive. I think I could have stayed on the bottom lane and let the 95 (Michael McDowell) and the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) get me pushed out a bit more, but I felt like we were going to have to deal with the top lane and that 13 (Ty Dillon) car. So I don’t think I could’ve done anything different. Looking at the scenario again, I would have made the same move because my car performed a little bit better on the top lane and when I went to block the 13, I felt that was the best move at the time.
PS: You’ve always been good on the plate tracks, though. What is the secret to the success?
DR: I don’t really know. I’ve had great cars throughout the years, which makes my job easier. I enjoy going to the plate tracks with the different dynamic for strategy and racing in the draft. There’s things that I do in preparation for the weekend, perhaps, but not a whole lot different. Sometimes you’ve just got certain types of tracks that you’re most comfortable and your decisions end up playing out well.
PS: Are there any tracks coming up that you are excited for more so than others?
DR: Well, I always prefer the short tracks. I like the late summer schedule with Bristol, and also going back to Richmond right before the Chase. It’s always a lot of fun heading into the Chase with Darlington right there, too. That last August stretch is always fun.
PS: What’s the best advice that a fellow driver has given you, and what driver gave that to you?
DR: I’ve had so many good pieces of advice from other drivers, teammates over the years. I’ve been teammates with Hall of Famers back at Roush (Fenway) Racing, and then when I was subbing for Kyle (Busch) at Joe Gibbs Racing. I don’t think there’s one thing that stands out, but probably the best advice came from Mark Martin.
I was a rookie in the truck series, and he was in his final season at Roush. His work ethic and the knowledge that he had about his racecar was very good, and some of the things that we were able to discuss helped me out. I wish I had a few more years to work with Mark before he left and transferred to another team.
David Ragan will be looking to score his third top-10 of 2017 this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He has been strong at the magic mile in the past, posting a seventh-place finish in 2011.
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