David Ragan takes a few laps during practice at his home track. (Source: WALB)
David Ragan has a special decal on his car this weekend to commemorate his 400th career start. (Source: Front Row MotorSports)
Fans of Chase Elliott sent him good luck charms in hope they will help him get his first win. (Source: WALB)
Driver David Ragan enjoys racing in front of friends and family. (Source: WALB)
Chase Elliott smiles when presented good luck charms from hometown fans. (Source: WALB)
ATLANTA, GA (WALB) -
NASCAR is at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and two Georgia drivers will be fighting for the checkered flag.
Andrew Gorton spent time with Chase Elliott and David Ragan to learn about their climb to the top of the NASCAR circuit.
NASCAR driver's dreams are born on short tracks across North America.
For Dawsonville's Chase Elliott and Unadilla's David Ragan, their careers started in the backyards across Georgia
To reach the top, Ragan spent countless weekends at the Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele.
"I remember going to Cordele Speedway back in the early '90s back when it was still a dirt track. I was six, seven, eight, nine years old before I even started racing," said Ragan.
After watching his family race, Ragan finally got his turn behind the wheel.
"Probably the late '90s, early 2000s. That was the first time I got to race there. Growing up in Unadilla, that was our hometown short track. Racing at all the racetracks across middle Georgia certainly was a big part of me. Learning experience, learning how to race and car control. Learning everything there is about going fast and trying to turn left," said Ragan.
Chase Elliott grew up racing as well, but most of his weekends were spent at tracks across the country cheering on his father, 44-time winner Bill Elliott in his famous number nine.
To some, Atlanta Motor Speedway is just asphalt and metal.
But in just a few minutes driving around the speedway with Elliott, you could see that this track is much more than that to his family.
"I know he loved coming down here. I spent a lot of time racing on the short track here on the front straightaway of Atlanta. It would be special you know, to have a good run here at home. Around the home crowd. Around a lot of friends and family," said Elliott.
Ragan hasn't captured the checkered flag in Atlanta yet, but if he does it this year it will be in a new number, the number nine which his dad made famous.
Chase's fans from across the country are doing all they can to help, by sending him good luck charms.
These good luck charms range from handwritten letters to stuffed animals, beads and pictures.
"I'm glad everybody sent their stuff in, that's really cool. I hope it works, more than anything," said Elliott.
Ragan has a lot of people across Georgia on his on his side as well.
On Thursday, Ragan was recognized at the state capital by Governor Nathan Deal in recognition of his 400th career start this weekend.
"It's neat they took a few minutes to recognize NASCAR weekend here at Atlanta Motor Speedway and my 400th start. I still call Georgia home and I have a lot of friends and family here in the state," said Ragan.
To celebrate the occasion, Ragan has invited a few fans to this weekend's race who wrote him fan mail during his first season over ten years ago, in thanks of their support.
"We invited them to the race. I feel like they were a fan of mine when I was a rookie and have continued to follow the sport of NASCAR and my career. I feel like I needed to give something back to them," said Ragan.
Fans of Ragan and Elliott will be cheering extra loud this weekend in hopes that one of Georgia's own will end up at the top of the scoring pylon and in victory lane at the end of this weekend's Quick Trip Folds of honor 500 this weekend.
The race is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon, but rain could delay it to Monday.