In the Driver’s Seat with David Ragan

Ragan's homecoming to Front Row Motorsports includes a familiar face atop the No. 38 pit box.

For the past 12 years, David Ragan has enjoyed his fair share of successes in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.  After all, he scored his popular first victory in the 2011 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and led a 1-2 Front Row Motorsports triumph at Talladega in 2013.

While fighting the uphill battle in the premier division, Ragan makes the most of his opportunities. Following his stint with BK Racing last year, the Unadilla, GA native returned to Front Row Motorsports this season.

The 31-year-old racer can get the job done.  As a matter of fact, Ragan substituted for Kyle Busch for a period in 2015, flexing his muscles with a top-10 in the spring race at Martinsville.

Adept at the superspeedways, the driver of the No. 38 Ford Fusion expressed confidence with his reunion and season to date.  As a second generation racer, he takes pride with his role as a racer, son, and a father.  Moreover, this young driver enjoys the new style of NASCAR action with the stages and points format.

Presently, Ragan can take heart with his two top-10 finishes with this season nearing the halfway point.  By and large, this team remains optimistic during the summer stretch of races.

Recently, I caught up with Ragan during the June race weekend at Michigan.  Friendly, thoughtful, and humble, it’s safe to say the Georgian enjoys his life on and off the track.  Race fans, let’s call shotgun and get “In the Driver’s Seat with David Ragan!”

Rob Tiongson :  David, this is your first season back with Front Row Motorsports in a year, but you’re this time with the No. 38 team.  How have things been like to work with this bunch, with crew chief Derrick Finley and teammate Landon Cassill?

Ragan has enjoyed his reunion with Front Row Motorsports.

Ragan has enjoyed his reunion with Front Row Motorsports.

David Ragan :  It’s been a lot of fun to reconnect with a lot of old friends, and get to work with Landon for the first time.  Landon’s a good driver, and a good person that I’ve enjoyed getting to know.  I’ve gotten to race with them and get to know them kind of in the garage the last five or six years.  It’s been fun to get to have them on the same team, and I think he fits in at Front Row Motorsports really nice.

I got to work with Derrick Finley a lot my first time around at Front Row Motorsports.  He actually was my crew chief for a short period of time in 2014, so it’s been a good reunion with Derrick.  He’s a hard worker, a hustler, been around the sport for a long time.  So yeah, I’ve enjoyed getting to work with everybody again.

RT :  That’s great.  From your vantage point, do you feel like the new stages in the race format and the new points format have enhanced the on-track action? Does it allow for teams to have more strategy on the race track and on pit road like it should be doing?

DR :  Yeah, I think it’s worked out exactly like we all hoped it would be.  It’s great, it’s some extra drama on the race track, and it’s given teams an opportunity to have different pit sequence and strategy during those stages, not only trying to gain points or the best finish in one stage, but playing for the second stage or even setting yourself up for the final stage.

So, we’ve used it to our advantage at the Coke 600, at Pocono in June, and at Michigan, where we have a unique way of kind of playing those first two stages out.  So absolutely, I think that it’s been great for the fans, and the competitors.

I think the TV networks like having that predictability and when a stage is going to end to adjust their coverage around.  So I think it’s been really good.

RT :  Do you foresee the possibility that we may have more than 16 race winners, thus kind of forcing other drivers and teams to get two or even three wins to make it to the playoffs?

DR :  Yeah, I think that…on one hand, you know it is going to take winning one race at some point. So it’s going to make everybody push extremely hard to try to get that win or to get into the playoffs, because that’s what we all race for going into Richmond.

We want to get to that point and say… it’s something that, over the years, you knew there were going to be four or five guys that were going to be able to race their way in on points. With a few first-time winners and surprise winners this year, that might not be that case.

RT :  I understand this weekend you’ve got a very special paint scheme on your car with the Shriner’s organization, that I saw last year with the No. 23 ride.  How did that relationship form?  What are some ways that fans can learn about it and even help out with the summer campaign efforts?

Ragan has been a proud support of the Shriners Hospital for Children since 2007. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Podium Finish)

Ragan has been a proud support of the Shriners Hospital for Children since 2007. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Podium Finish)

DR :  Yeah, I’ve been a fan of the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children for a long time, since my rookie season.  I visited the hospital in Tampa back in 2007 and chose the hospitals as my charity of choice.  But then a few years afterwards, I joined the Shriner’s fraternity. I see the impact that they have on young kids’ lives and really make their quality of lives a lot better.  They specialize in orthopedic care and burns.  They’ve got some great staff all around the country that do a really good job.

So, we’re proud to have them back as a partner for a few races, and you know, spreading some awareness, raising some awareness and donations for their hospitals so they can continue to operate in a world class manner.  You can learn more buy going to shrinershospitals.org to find out a little bit more information.

But they’re going to be on our car at Michigan, Sonoma, and Daytona. We should have some fun with them, having a couple of the patients come out to the race tracks, and hang out some.  So, it’s good to have them on our race car. But I’ve got a personal connection because I am a Shriner as well.

RT :  That’s excellent.  I think they’re a great organization as well, and I know how much I appreciate them as well.

DR :  Yeah, they do a good job for a lot of families that need the help, for sure.

RT :  I’ve got to ask this since it’s a question I’ve asked most drivers in the garage.  If you could be a driver/team owner for one day and you could pick any drivers from past or present and any racing series, which driver would you pick as your teammate because you like them, would you want on your team because you’re getting towards the end of your career, and would still want even if they annoyed you on or off the race track?

DR :  Yeah, so you just want just one driver or a couple?

RT :  You can name multiple.

DR :  Yeah, I mean, I think it’s hard not to go with Jimmie Johnson.  Obviously, I’ve gotten to race with him to see the competitor that he is, but I also think he’s a good person.  He’s a good team player.  He seems to make everyone better on his team.  So, he’s an obvious choice.

But yeah, you can look back over the years and pick someone like a Cale Yarborough, or even like a Richard Petty. Someone that’s been very successful, that, as a teammate, you want someone to challenge you, to push you, but also to help you some.

If you can pick a guy like that that could challenge you to be a better driver, that could push you to work harder, but that also can help you some, I think that’s a win-win situation.  So, yeah, I would go with Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, and Richard Petty.

RT :  I would say those are some real wheelmen right there.  Excellent choices.  With Michigan being on Father’s Day weekend, it’s got to be special for you. You’re a second-generation racer as your father Ken having raced in this division. You’re the father of two beautiful girls.  How special is this weekend for you, not only as a race car driver, but now as a father?

Ragan cherishes his family and his role as a father. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Podium Finish)

Ragan cherishes his family and his role as a father. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Podium Finish)

DR :  Yeah, as a father, it’s unique.  You kind of have a different perspective when you have kids.  It’s always about your father, and then it’s a lot of fun to have someone recognize the father in their life, and it’s you.  So, it’s a fun weekend.

They’re not going to be here with me this weekend; they’re going to be back home, but I’ll be excited to get back and see them Sunday night.  We actually pretend celebrated Father’s Day before I left town, so that was fun.  And as they get a little older, maybe they can come and tag along.  But they’ll be watching.

For me, I’m proud to have two beautiful girls, and a father that I can still talk to a lot.  But I think Mother’s Day is still more important, because they do more of the heavy lifting at the house.

RT :  There you go.  Finally a driver who admits his mother does most of the work.

DR :  Yep, yep.  The wives and the mothers do most of the work.

Author’s Notes :  Special thanks to David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports for this incredible opportunity at Michigan.  If you’d like to learn more about David and his No. 38 team, “Follow” them on Twitter, “Like” their Facebook page, and “Visit” their official website!

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. Born and raised in the Boston, MA area, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, you'll likely see an article on The Podium Finish by either myself or one of my talented columnists who absolutely have the motorsports passion.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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