David Ragan‘s story is quite different from most NASCAR drivers.
Ragan grew up in Unadilla, GA with a father who was racing in NASCAR, just trying to make a living. These days, a majority of the drivers don’t have the luxury of having family involved in the sport. Instead, they have to do things on their own. Well, though Ragan’s father Ken Ragan was a driver himself, David had to overcome a lot just to make it to NASCAR’s most elite level.
Ragan’s career starting to boom when he drove for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Mark Martin in legends cars.
From there, Ragan was given the ultimate gift. After making a few starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2004, along with some NASCAR Nationwide Series races for some small teams, Ragan was given a shot to drive for Jack Roush. Though it took him a while to make his way up through the rankings, Ragan found himself in a ride at the top of the NASCAR rankings replacing the man that started it all for him.
He made some noise in his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Martinsville in 2006 after getting into a few drivers, but he was still given the opportunity to drive the No. 6 Ford Fusion in 2007 and beyond.
Evidently, Ragan struggled in NASCAR’s top series for the first few months, but started to catch on in 2008 where he nearly made the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Though those struggles had to hurt him, his personal life had its own struggles. Ragan’s older brother, Adam, has down syndrome and has been an immense help to the effort to raise awareness for the disease.
Back on the racetrack, the attention which Ragan brought along with his results showed UPS that he can run up front. AAA Insurance, which was his sponsor at the time, announced they were leaving the team in 2009. UPS signed on for three years once Dale Jarrett retired, and Ragan was able to make it to victory lane at Daytona in 2011 — but it was too little, too late.
Roush-Fenway Racing expressed interest in re-signing Ragan, but they just didn’t have a sponsor to keep him around for a full-season in 2012. When Kurt Busch was fired by Penske Racing, Ragan was considered the leading candidate for the ride, but that went to A.J. Allmendinger.
Since it was already December, Ragan had few options left. He decided to drive for Front Row Motorsports, a team that has seen very limited success. However, since Ragan joined the team, he’s been able to prove that he’s a team leader, something he wasn’t able to do at Roush-Fenway Racing because he was around drivers more experienced than himself.
Now, he can take the leadership skills which he learned from them, and use it with his teammates who haven’t yet found victory lane.
Ragan spoke with Rant Sports about his time at Front Row Motorsports since last year and what his journey has been like since he joined the team. In this exclusive interview, Ragan discusses his win at Talladega, racing for a small team once again, his future in NASCAR and much more.
Q: You started your career driving for smaller teams. After going to Roush-Fenway Racing and now back to a smaller team, what can you do to help Front Row Motorsports expand?
A: It’s a tough environment to expand in this day in age against the larger teams. There will be a change in regard in my opinion over the next five to 10 years. All we can do is work hard and try to promote ourselves to the outside world and let them know our story. I think by running well, winning the Talladega race was a big accomplishment for our team, so we have a good value and proposition at Front Row Motorsports. The value that a smaller team can give to a company (or sponsor) is a lot better than a larger team. We just try to keep working.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.