Driver looks for options
Morris News Service
TALLADEGA, Ala. — David Ragan hoped to have an answer on his future last Saturday night at Talladega Superspeedway, but he didn’t hit any of the numbers in the Powerball lottery drawing.
So he went back to work this week looking for sponsors and race teams.
Four months ago he was one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR, especially after his popular victory in the Coke zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
But as quickly as his fame came, it fizzled – along with the continual struggles in the economy – with just two top-10 finishes in his next 12 races.
He’s not sure what’s ahead or where he will end up.
Until he does, his calendar will be filled with sales pitches, talking to car owners and finishing out the season in the no. 6 UPS Ford at Roush Fenway Racing.
“I still don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s not going to keep me from trying to win another race this year,” he said. “Winning has a way of solving a lot of problems.”
There are four races remaining in the Sprint Cup season, including Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. It’s been one of his worst tracks, a place where in 2006 Tony Stewart once called him a “dart without feathers.” But with so much to prove and so little time to do it, it could be an important part of his future plans.
From the start, Ragan has struggled to find his place at Roush. it took a while for him to be comfortable as mark Martin’s replacement, and now that he’s developed into one of the sport’s popular and competitive drivers, he’s suddenly the odd-man out at Roush.
Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards all signed contract extensions earlier this year, but the company has been slow to lock up sponsorship. Ragan’s UPS deal was downgraded to a part-time sponsorship and it moved over to fill in some of the holes on Edwards’ car.
Edwards still has some unsold races and Kenseth has no funding. That’s pushed Ragan to the bottom of Roush’s priorities – and probably out the door.
“The stars all lined up perfectly on me, I guess,” Ragan said.
Ragan would accept a part-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series while running for the Nationwide Series championship, he said. Even that kind of schedule has been difficult to find, especially with other drivers like Martin and Brian Vickers looking to do the same thing.
“The thing working in my favor is I’m young; I’ve still got my best years ahead of me,” said Ragan, who is 25. “I can do Nationwide and wait for the economy to turn back around. Until then, I’ll be meeting with sponsors and trying to put something together. We’ve talked to a lot of people, but we haven’t put anything in the bank yet. “
Ragan failed to make the Chase. He’s 18th in the standings after finishing eighth last Sunday at the Talladega Superspeedway.
“I’m staying positive,” he said. “It’s tough out there, but I feel like I’ve got some options.”
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