Unadilla's Ragan ready for Daytona debut - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Unadilla's Ragan ready for Daytona debut

February 12, 2007

Daytona Beach, Fl. - To race on NASCAR's premiere circuit is the dream of virtually every young race driver in the America.

21-year old David Ragan will begin his first full season on the Nextel Cup circuit this Sunday at the Daytona 500.

Ragan's first season is expected to be a challenge giving his lack of experience and the fact he is following one of greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

The number six is one of the most recognizable cars in all of NASCAR.

Only this year the driver behind the wheel is not Mark Martin but 21-year old David Ragan from Unadilla.

 David Ragan said "It is an awesome accomplishment just to get to the Nextel Cup Series. To be in one of the top five to ten rides in the history of the sport is an even greater accomplishment."

 David Ragan has wanted to be a race car driver since watching his father Ken drive on the NASCAR and ARCA circuits.

The elder Ragan posted a 12th place finish in the 1983 Daytona 500.

David Ragan said "That was kind of punishment if I didn't act right in school. I couldn't go to the races.

Ken Ragan said " It certainly enthuses all of us to see David with the opportunity he has got with an organization like Roush Racing."

The Ragan family moved to Stockbridge nine years ago where David started his racing career at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

He then moved to Charlotte where he earned a spot on NASCAR's truck series by winning Roush Racing's gong show two years ago.

But the Nextel Cup is no fun and games especially when you are a driver with virtually no experience on NASCAR's biggest stage.

David Ragan said "All in all , I am going to have to fend for myself. I will be the one that is looked at when we win races and when we lose races.

Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards said " Having essentially the weight of the world on his shoulders in taking over Mark Martin's ride. I think he is doing a great job. The only thing I would tell him is just to his best and not worry people say or think."

There has been plenty of second guessing about Jack Roush 's decision to put an inexperienced driver in his flagship car. David Ragan's father believes his son's performance this year will silence his critics.

Ken Ragan said " I think it is going to be a nice surprise to a lot of different people."

David has his eye on the big picture when it comes to his rookie season.

David Ragan said "We are shooting for rookie of the year. We want to have some consistency throughout the year and in 2008 next year we want to lay the groundwork to be a contender for the championship."

David Ragan's rookie year is off to a fast start with a front row starting position for the first of Thursday Twin 150 Daytona 500 qualfiying races.  

David Ragan's cousin Brett will work as a crew member for David's Busch Series car this season.

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