Tag:David Ragan
Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:12 am

David Ragan signs with Front Row Motorsports

By Pete Pistone

David Ragan's long saga of trying to find a ride for the 2012 NASCAR season is over.

The former Roush Fenway Racing driver will join Front Row Motorsports for the coming Sprint Cup Series campaign and remain in the Ford camp after all.

Ragan was rumored to be in line for seats at Penske Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports after he was forced out of RFR when sponsor UPS pulled out its full-time backing.

Those rides didn't pan out and Ragan finally landed at the upstart Front Row organization.

Ragan will pilot the team's No. 34 Ford and team up with returning David Gilliland in the two car effort.

"Front Row has made great progress in the last few years, and I look forward to helping them advance to the next level," Ragan said.  "I think the team appreciates what I can bring to the table, and I think it's a good opportunity for both of us.  I've also enjoyed a long relationship with Ford and I'm glad that I'll get to keep working with them."

Gilliland returns for his third season with Front Row and his seventh in the Cup series.  The 35-year-old Riverside, Calif., native will return to the No. 38, the number he drove as a Sprint Cup rookie as well as the car he drove in his first season with Front Row.  The No. 38 team is also locked in to the field entering 2012.  Last season, Gilliland raced his way to a third-place finish in the Daytona 500 to start off an impressive 2011 run, in which he proved to be a force on superspeedways and road courses.

"We've gotten better year to year and even week to week in the time I've been with Front Row, so I'm excited to be back for a third year and to have David (Ragan) as a teammate," Gilliland said.  "It's good to be back in the '38' car, too.  It was my dad's number, and I've also had some pretty good days at the racetrack with that number on the door." 

"I am committed to building a competitive race team by employing the same fundamental business principles that have worked for my other successful endeavors, and it all begins with the people," said team owner Bob Jenkins.  "We took some pretty big steps in our race program last year and adding David Ragan is another giant step in the right direction.

"When you look at some of the large, storied teams in NASCAR that have been running for decades, we're still pretty young by comparison," Jenkins continued. "But I like the upgrades we're making and the improvements we're seeing, and I am confident we will be able to compete with them on a consistent basis in the not-too-distant future.  Ragan is a proven competitor and race winner, Gilliland had a really solid season for us last year, Roush Yates engines are the best in the sport, and Ford continues to provide invaluable support, so I feel like 2012 is really going to be our year to step up to the next level.  Plus, I now have two Davids to engage Goliath, and we know how that day ended."

Sponsorship for the Front Row Motorsports entries is being finalized and will be announced soon.

"We've worked hard to build an organization that can deliver compelling value propositions for our partners, and we can win immediately on that front given our size, efficiencies and cost structures," said Jerry Freeze, Front Row Motorsports' General Manager. "Fortunately, a few leading corporate partners have taken notice and others are conducting their due diligence.  That's very encouraging and bodes well for our future.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 6:16 am

Allmendinger wins while Ragan hopes for the best

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Allmendinger's future is set with Penske Racing but what lies ahead for the iconic No. 43 car is still very unclear)

The wildest NASCAR off-season in recent history continued with Penske Racing naming A.J. Allmendinger the new driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.

The announcement capped off a wild month for the team that found itself in need of a new driver and crew chief only days after the checkered flag flew on the season finale at Homestead. 

Crew chief Steve Addington bolted to join championship-winning Tony Stewart’s entry and Stewart-Haas Racing. Then the team decided to part ways with Kurt Busch in the aftermath of a season-long string of behavior issues that boiled over with the driver’s emotional outburst with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch and his television crew. 

The turn of events left team owner Roger Penske and General Manager Tim Cindric with the daunting task of basically rebuilding the team in about four weeks time. 

Todd Gordon was tabbed as crew chief, getting a promotion from Penske’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 team to six wins a year ago. Much like his counterpart at Penske’s other ride Paul Wolfe, who helped guide Brad Keselowski to a Chase berth and three Cup wins last season, after being elevated from the Nationwide effort, Gordon has a chance to shine at the top level of the sport. 

But until Wednesday Gordon did not know whom he’d be working with as a driver. 

Despite several sources confirming early on that David Ragan was the heir apparent to Busch in the ride, Penske stayed mum on what the plans were to fill the open seat. 

When Richard Petty Motorsports got word that Best Buy would leave the team in favor of a scaled down program with Roush Fenway Racing, it put Allmendinger on the open market.

And in short order the Penske organization pounced.

On paper the stats between Allmendinger and Ragan are pretty equal. 

Allmendinger has made 152 starts and has gone winless with an average finish of 21.2 while Ragan has 182 starts with his Daytona win last summer to go along with a 21.2 average finish. 

However Allmendinger has had a somewhat rocky go of it during his transition from open wheel racing, where he was considered a phenom during his Champ Car days, to stock car racing. 

He started his NASCAR career with Red Bull Racing in 2007 but struggled to the point of finally being replaced the following year. 

From there he landed at what was known as Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, which eventually evolved into RPM.

Allmendinger finally showed the promise many expected from him last season when he came close to winning several times and finished seventeenth in the final Sprint Cup Series standings. 

It appeared Allmendinger was set to build on that success along with teammate Marcos Ambrose, who scored a win for the team at Watkins Glen in 2011, and head into the new campaign to bring RPM to the next level. 

But that plan went out the window quickly when Best Buy’s decision started the dominoes falling. 

Now Penske has its line-up set, Allmendinger has a new ride, RPM is down to only one fully sponsored team and Ragan is back in the unemployment line. 

A year ago Richard Petty’s team was struggling to keep its doors open after funding from controversial then team co-owner George Gillett dried up and led to legal action being taken. 

Petty was able to bring in new investors in the form of Medallion Financial Corp and DGB Investments. The team regrouped bringing Ambrose in from JTG Daugherty to pair with Allmendinger and set off into a 2011 season that for the most part was encouraging and impressive, especially in light of what had transpired around the organization. 

RPM insists the loss of Best Buy and release of Allmendinger is not a deadly blow and plans to again field a pair of entries next season. 

Ironically Ragan could fill the now open seat of the No. 43. 

Shuffled out of Roush due to sponsor UPS scaling back its program and forcing the operation to shrink from four to three cars next season, Ragan was one of the prime free agents on the market, a list that included David Reutimann and Brian Vickers who both lost their rides at Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull respectively. 

He seemed the perfect choice to replace the tempestuous Busch with Penske particularly from the marketing side of the sport. Ragan’s low key demeanor and friendly personality served former sponsor UPS well at Roush and appeared to give him the leg up to join Penske and represent Shell/Pennzoil, who was looking for less controversy than what at times surrounded Busch’s tenure. 

The cards did not fall that way for Ragan with Penske but with RPM aligned with Ford and RFR, he would be the perfect fit to more or less remain in the family with the 43 ride. 

That is if one key element can be found – sponsorship. 

The tough economy and financial pressures from corporate America that continue to take its toll on NASCAR teams in need of precious sponsorship dollars will make that a difficult mission for RPM – especially at this late date. 

Preseason testing is only three weeks away and the start of the season comes less than a month after that wraps up. Prepping for 2012 without a driver or sponsor the week of Christmas is not the gift RPM expected this holiday season.

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:51 am

David Ragan set to walk down the aisle

By Pete Pistone

David Ragan doesn't have his racing career locked down but his personal life future life is set.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver recently proposed to his longtime girlfriend Jacquelyn Ann Butler and the two have set a 2012 wedding date of Dec. 15 at a Charlotte-area church.

Butler, of Greenwood, S.C., graduated from UNC Charlotte earlier this year with a degree in meteorology. She and Ragan met Sept. 6, 2006 on the campus not far from Charlotte Motor Speedway and the two have been fixtures at the racetrack ever since. In fact, both Ragan and Butler won races in 2011 – Ragan won the July 2 Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Butler won the Oct. 15 Better-Half Dash charity race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Ragan just completed his fifth full year in the Sprint Cup Series and is currently in negotiations with teams in regard to his 2012 season. The Unadilla, Ga., native was the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie of the year and finished a career-best 13<sup>th</sup> in Sprint Cup points in 2008, where he was universally acknowledged as NASCAR’s most improved driver. In 2011, he won his first career Sprint Cup race on July 2 at Daytona and scored his first and second career Sprint Cup poles, respectively, on April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and on July 30 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: December 4, 2011 10:52 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:44 pm

Sources: David Ragan to replace Kurt Busch

By Pete Pistone

UPDATED - 12/5/2011

David Ragan
 is expected to take the place of Kurt Busch in the Penske Racing stable.

Several sources have confirmed the Roush Fenway Racing driver will be named the new pilot of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in the aftermath of Busch's official departure from the team, which was announced on Monday.

Ragan was out of a Cup ride when sponsorship issues forced team owner Jack Roush to shrink from four to three Sprint Cup entries next season. He had been linked to Front Row Motorsports or to a possible Nationwide team for 2012.

But with the decision to part ways with Busch made, Penske has reportedly reached out to Ragan as his replacement.

Ragan was released from a personal services contract he had with Ford Motor Company that will pave the way for his move to the Penske stable.

Speculation is Ragan was set to sign a deal to replace Landon Cassill in the Phoenix Racing No. 51 ride but now instead will agree to a one year deal with Penske.

However neither Ragan or Penske have confirmed an agreement at this point.

"It could be David, it could be others,'' Bud Denker, Penske Racing's senior vice president told ESPN. "We have not started that process yet."

Ragan commented on the situation as well on Monday.

"I look forward to sitting down with them and talking about the opportunity," Ragan told the Charlotte Observer. "I have a lot of respect for Roger Penske and his program. 

"I think I have proven myself was a winner and in representing my sponsors UPS and AAA over the years. My record off the track speaks for itself." 

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:58 pm

Roush Fenway announces major layoffs

By Pete Pistone

Roush Fenway Racing will scale back its operation in 2012 and as a by product layoff more than 100 employees

The team plans to run three Sprint Cup Series entries next season with the No. 6 Ford, driven this year by David Ragan, being shuttered due to the lack of sponsorship.

The Nationwide Series championship team will also dial down its involvement in NASCAR's number two division from three full time rides to one car on the entire tour and another running a partial schedule.

RFR spokesman Kevin Woods did confirm layoffs will take place but did not place a number on the number of people who will lose jobs as a result of the decisions.

“We’ll have probably three Cup teams and one and one-half Nationwide teams next season,” Woods said. “Do the math. We had to right-size the organization to get to that number.

“It’s an ongoing process that’s not complete.”
While Roush has full funding for Carl Edwards' No. 99 entry as well as the No. 16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle, the organization does not have complete sponsorship sold for the No. 17 ride of Matt Kenseth.

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 12:55 pm

Report: UPS cutting NASCAR sponsorship

Posted by Pete Pistone

Sports Business Journal is reporting UPS will cut back its involvement in NASCAR next season which will severely impact Roush Fenway Racing and its No. 6 entry driven by David Ragan.

Here is the SBJ story:

UPS plans to cut back dramatically on its support of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 car driven by David Ragan in '12. Sources familiar with the company’s plan said it will drop its full-season primary sponsorship of the No. 6 car and sponsor four to eight races at RFR in '12. The company is in talks to shift its sponsorship to Carl Edwards, who drives the team’s No. 99 car. RFR President Steve Newmark declined to comment and said the team is still in discussions with UPS. The company did not return a call seeking comment. The move will further reduce the number of sponsors paying for their logo to appear in all 36 NASCAR races. UPS was one of seven sponsors slated to be on the same NASCAR hood for all 36 Sprint Cup races. The other full-season primary sponsors are FedEx, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Miller Lite and NAPA Auto Parts. (Red Bull and Furniture Row own the teams that feature their logos.) The move comes on the heels of UPS' four-year, $100 million deal with 68 colleges. The company had a long history in NASCAR and was one of the first in the sport to effectively make a driver the public face of its brand by featuring Dale Jarrett in a multiyear campaign. Known as “Race the Truck,” the humorous campaign showed the company trying to convince the driver to race its “Big Brown” truck in a race. Though UPS won’t renew its full-season primary sponsorship at RFR, sources said the company is expected to renew its official partnership with NASCAR. It has been the sport’s official delivery company since '00.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 15, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 3:17 pm

Video: Drivers OK after hard wrecks at the Glen

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

After a one day rain delay, the Sprint Cup finally went green at Watkins Glen on Monday. During the course the race there were a couple of vicious crashes. Fortunately, all those involved were able to walk away.

Denny Hamlin -- Lap 65

Hamlin believed something broke on his car which caused him to lose his rear brakes in a crash on Lap 65. After starting 42nd -- had had spun during his qualifying attempt -- he had worked his way up to 12th. The crash resulted in a 36th-place finish.

How do you feel after the wreck?

"I feel better than I thought I would.  It felt like it was slow motion for me, but can't say enough for all the safety precautions NASCAR takes and obviously the wall helped a lot getting that dampened the hit a little bit.  Really encourage all these drivers to go to seven-point safety belts.   I had those and it just really softened the blow quite a bit.  A lot of these guys run five-point and it's just not enough.  It's a testament to all the safety stuff that we have."

Was the throttle hung?

"No.  Throttle didn't hang.  Something blew out in the left front and when it did it must have cut a brake line, so I had no brakes.  I was trying to do everything I could to weave or anything I could to get speed out of the car, but just nothing you can do -- front tires locked up and you can't steer.  It's a shame.  Our FedEx Ground Toyota was really good all day.  We were going to be right there about fourth or fifth in line on this restart, but it wasn't meant to be today."

How hard was that hit?

"The only thing really maybe harder was the Talladega one I had when I had the concussion a couple years ago.  That was about the worst.  This was just terrifying because you know there's nothing you can do and you're headed straight for the fence.  That was the scariest I've been in my car."

David Ragan and David Reutimann -- Final Lap

David Ragan and David Reutimann were involved in a crash on the final lap that saw both tag the wall hard and had Reutimann's car flip through the air.

David Ragan: "I'm okay, I'm sore. That was a hard hit. I looked down at my feet and my pedals and my leg rests were all pushed over. It's a shame that a race track we go to in 2011 doesn't have a better wall design all the way around the race track, so hopefully they'll look at that. I've been to some dirt tracks that have better walls than that. It was a hard hit, but our cars are safe. Thanks to everyone back at home that builds us safe race cars.

"It's just a product of close quarters racing at the end. I felt like I had a good run; I felt like I had Boris (Said) clear and I think he got a little better run that we did and he just hooked us. He certainly could have given a little more of a break and we all could have gotten through there and not torn up anything. But he was aggressive and we were all aggressive. He hooked me and I hit hard."

David Reutimann: "Something came in and kind of got into the uniform and ripped a hole in it there. So, something flew in there and got a hold of my shin and ate it up a little bit. I'm not exactly sure what, but just not a very good day for us.  I've got to thank everybody at Aaron's, Best Western and Tums and the guys at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) for building me safe race cars.  Just a pretty dismal day all day and didn't look like we were going to finish all that well, but I didn't figure we were going to finish that bad.  Disappointing.  Didn't really need to happen unfortunately, but that's just how it goes.

"This is one of the bigger hits I would say, but it's part of the gig.  You sign up to do this stuff every once and a while and you're going to hit something.  As fast as we're going, you hit stuff pretty hard.  I'm good and will be ready for Michigan next week.  I'm thinking where I hit would probably be a good place for SAFER barriers. So, maybe we should look at that next time we come back.  Overall, I'm okay and ready to get out of here."

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Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:40 am

Video of the Day: Four wide at Indy

Posted by Pete Pistone

Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, David Ragan and Landon Cassill decided to try going four-wide at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Sunday's Brickyard 400 with less than stellar results:

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com