Ragan To Make Milestone 400th Cup Series Start At Atlanta

David Ragan is set to make his 400th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photo: Atlanta Motor Speedway

David Ragan made his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start on September 24, 2006 at Dover International Speedway.

Twelve racing seasons later, the Unadilla, Georgia driver is set to make his 400th career start in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

And what better place to do it than at his home state track, Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ragan, a second generation driver whose father, Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member Ken Ragan, made a total of 50 Cup Series starts in 10 seasons, says it’s appropriate he’s making this milestone start at Atlanta.

“I can remember watching from a condo building in the summer of 1996 as they reconfigured this place and just dreaming of watching a race here,” he said on Saturday. “I remember my Bandolero and Legends car days where I just basically lived here at the race track during the summer months and we raced a lot.

“For me to be able to start in one NASCAR race was a really big deal, but to make 400 Cup races is something I really never thought about, and even during that time I always just thought about race to race or year to year. I never thought about a goal or making it to 200 or 300 or 400, so I’m grateful to have had sponsors and team owners that have given me the chance to go race and for it to happen here at Atlanta is really neat. I don’t know if we could have scripted it any better.”

Ragan is a two time winner on the MENCS tour, with victories at Daytona in July of 2011 driving for Jack Roush, and the second at Charlotte in May of 2013 driving for Bob Jenkins – the same car owner he will start his 400th race driving for.

The road to 400 has not been an easy path for the 33-year-old.

“It’s very hard to make those first few starts because there are hundreds and thousands of qualified drivers across the world that are capable to drive a stock car, but only a select few get an opportunity because there’s just not enough rides available to field with all the talent that there is in the U.S. I feel grateful to have gotten that opportunity and, yes, it was very questionable at times. I was on the fence getting ready to go to college and kind of slowed down on my racing career, and then over the years having sponsors leave and losing my ride at the end of one year, a team shutting down, having to scrap and put together deals, but somehow someway I’ve been able to find myself in really good situations at the start of every season and I’ve been able to run all the races, and I’ve been healthy.”

Having never been sidelined with a concussion or injury, Ragan says he feels pretty lucky in that sense.

“I’ve been in some pretty good accidents over the last 10 years and to be able to always walk away and not have any injuries. It’s something you don’t really think about certain goals and numbers when you’re in the moment, you’re just worried about making that next lap or making that next race or trying to win the next race. If it teaches me anything, it teaches me that life does happen fast and you need to sit back and enjoy the ride and not really worry about the destination so much.”

Newman Paces Final MENCS Practice

A day after turning in the second fastest time in qualifying for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman backed up his time trials run by leading Saturday’s final practice session.

Newman toured the 1.5 mile speedway with a lap at 184.597 miles an hour.

“I feel like we’ve got a good car,” Newman said. “I think for sure a top 10 car, maybe a top five car, but the Liberty National Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was good off the truck and with this whole one Happy Hour it kind of changes things a little bit in how you approach it. Just look forward to the race whenever we get to it, whenever Mother Nature allows us and feel like we will be plenty competitive, just got to put it all together.”

Martin Truex, Jr., who did not make a qualifying run on Friday after having issues making it through tech inspection, was second quick. He will start Sunday’s race from the 35th starting position.

Paul Menard was third fastest in Happy Hour, followed by Denny Hamlin in fourth and Joey Logano in fifth.

Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, and rookie Darrell Wallace, Jr. rounded out the top ten.

Other notables included pole sitter Kyle Busch, who was 15th quick, Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon, who timed in 24th fast, Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott, who was 27th, and defending race winner Brad Keselowski, who was 29th fastest.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton, GA
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 – February 25, 2018

Sunday’s Starting Lineup

1. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 184.652 mph.
2. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 184.419 mph.
3. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 184.388 mph.
4. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 184.229 mph.
5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 183.856 mph.
6. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 183.722 mph.
7. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 183.485 mph.
8. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 183.449 mph.
9. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 182.284 mph.
10. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 181.052 mph.
11. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 183.430 mph.
12. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 182.952 mph.
13. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 182.825 mph.
14. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 182.507 mph.
15. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 182.464 mph.
16. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 182.129 mph.
17. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 181.955 mph.
18. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 181.634 mph.
19. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 181.467 mph.
20. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 181.307 mph.
21. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 181.248 mph.
22. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 181.236 mph.
23. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 180.804 mph.
24. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 181.842 mph.
25. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 181.753 mph.
26. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 181.550 mph.
27. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 181.082 mph.
28. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 180.293 mph.
29. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 180.117 mph.
30. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 178.914 mph.
31. (23) Gray Gaulding, Jr., Toyota, 178.269 mph.
32. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 177.045 mph.
33. (00) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 175.050 mph.
34. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 174.362 mph.
35. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 0.000 mph.
36. (51) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.


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