David Ragan thinks racing on the Roval will be “one of the greatest shows” and the downforce package in 2019 is a needed short-term fix for NASCAR.
David Ragan, a 12 year veteran in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, talked with Motor Racing Digest at Richmond Raceway. The driver of the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports discussed NASCAR’s first trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, the drafting package for 2019, cutting costs in the sport and his success this season.
Racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
The upcoming race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval will be an opportunity for a team like Ragan’s to score a finish more competitive than usual. That is, if he can stay out of potential trouble.
Ragan hasn’t made any laps on the Roval, just working on the simulator, but he’s eagerly awaiting NASCAR’s first trip.
“I think it’s going to be one of the greatest shows that we’ve had,” Ragan said. “The racing on the 1.5-mile track at Charlotte has has not been very good the last five to seven years.”
“I give a lot of credit to Marcus and Bruton Smith and that whole staff for making it happen. I think it’s going to be an awesome show. This is a great opportunity to showcase something different at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
The drafting package at more races in 2019
Showcasing something different seems to be the general theme for NASCAR in 2018. Earlier this year at the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race race, the Cup Series utilized the drafting package for the first time. NASCAR is looking at implementing the drafting package at more races in 2019. Many drivers have voiced their opinions on the proposed package.
“I think the first thing we have to realize as a sport is we are an entertainment show,” Ragan said. “It’s not all about racing. It is about putting on a good show for the fans watching at the track and on TV.”
“The racing is really good right now but we do have a handful of tracks where the racing is not very good because the cars have changed and they’ve resurfaced the racetracks too well where there’s no character in the track.”
“So I think for a short-term fix the downforce packages is a must. The racing is a snoozefest at tracks like Charlotte, Michigan, and Kentucky and at the racetracks that are really smooth and really fast.”
“I think the downforce package will make the cars a little more exciting for the fans. It will make the racing a little better. But I don’t think that’s a long-term fix for our sport. I would like to see some of those tracks reconfigure, maybe lose a date or two and let’s go back to Memphis and Iowa and short tracks.”
Lowering costs in the sport
Earlier this year, Ragan Tweeted that lowering the cost to be competitive in the top three series is crucial. He continued to echo those comments at Richmond.
“I think we’ve got to cut costs in the sport if we want things to change,” he said. “If we want things to continue the same then I guess it’s OK having an extremely expensive hobby for these owners.”
“I don’t know exactly the ways we can do that. I have some pretty good ideas but there would be a lot of people who probably wouldn’t like them. That’s one thing that’s NASCAR’s decision and it’s their sandbox. I’m glad that I get to come play in the sandbox and I’ll support whatever they decide to do.”
Success at Superspeedways
History would say that a drafting package would favor a driver like Ragan. Seven of Ragan’s 15 career top five finishes have come at Superspeedway tracks. He finished sixth at Talladega in the spring and with the second trip upcoming, Ragan explained why he thinks he’s had success at those tracks.
“I enjoy the the mix-up,” he said. “I just go there with a good attitude and knowing that if I can make the right moves and stay out of trouble we’ll have a shot to run well”
“The restrictor plate package is a big equalizer with all the teams in the garage. You have that high risk of being involved in an accident, which is no fun. I wouldn’t like to race at a Superspeedway 36 times a year. But I think that four times a season, that’s a pretty good mix for for what we have.”
State of Front Row Motorsports in 2018
Ragan is enjoying one of his best seasons with the Front Row Motorsports. Since joining Front Row in 2012, he currently has his best average finish, 23.0, with the team.
Ragan thinks Front Row’s ability to strengthen their relationship with Roush-Fenway Racing and Ford Motor Company has contributed to that.
“I think that (team owner) Bob Jenkins has continued to invest in the team. That’s allowed us to rebuild our cars at a little bit of a faster rate and hold them to a little bit of a tighter tolerances,” Ragan said.
”We were able to use a little bit more of the engineering resources that we have from Roush and Ford. Our engines were upgraded to a plan where the engines are more competitive to the field and the race cars we’re building are better.”
Goals for the rest of the season
Ragan’s goal for the rest of the 2018 season is the same from the beginning of the year: to finish top-20 every weekend.
“Our goals are top-20 finishes every weekend,” Ragan said. “Making the second round of qualifying is always important and completing all the laps and trying not to have any more DNFs.”
“So if we can do that, we will outrun the cars that we need to outrun and that will continue to put us on a path that’ll be for better improved averages.”
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattlovisa.