David Ragan’s 2013 Will Be The Year of MotivationBy Mary Jo Buchanan
While 2012 has been a year of change for NASCAR driver David Ragan, including getting married in the off-season, 2013 will be the year of motivation for the 27 year old behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion.
“We’ve had a lot going on and it has been busy,” Ragan said. “We got married, Jacquelyn (Butler) and I, on December 15th.”
“We got to go to St. Lucia on our honeymoon for a few days and enjoyed that,” Ragan continued. “And then we spent Christmas and New Year’s with our family back home.”
“Being able to celebrate our marriage with our close friends and family is what I will remember most from the wedding,” Ragan said. “With the racing schedule we have, we are on the road and don’t get to see our family much.”
“So, getting to see my family and Jacquelyn’s family all in one place was probably the biggest thing that was enjoyable.”
“So, we’ve had a good off-season and it’s gone by extremely fast,” Ragan said. “But we’re happy the New Year is here.”
In 2013, the year will be all about motivation, as well as preparation for Ragan and his team, who have been working on their new race cars literally non-stop.
“Clearly the guys at the race shop have been working extremely hard getting these race cars, the 2013 Fusions, ready to go,” Ragan said. “I think most people don’t realize the amount of work and long hours that the guys at the shop are putting in over the off season.”
“We can take a few weeks off but the guys who work at the fab shop and our body hanging department, I think they got Christmas day and New Year’s Day and other than that, they have been working every day and even on Saturdays,” Ragan continued. “There are a lot of hours going into these new cars.”
“We’ve had good meetings to improve our race cars and this is giving a small team an opportunity to build new race cars and freshen our equipment,” Ragan said. “In the past, we haven’t done that so we feel like we’ll be more competitive going into 2013.”
Ragan is also trying to ensure that he himself is a motivator, particularly in the New Year. And he wants to not only motivate himself but also every single member of the race team and in the race shop.
“I think the biggest thing that drivers like myself and teammates David Gilliland and Josh Wise can do is be with the team and be motivators and cheerleaders and just try to be supportive,” Ragan said. “We try to come up with new ideas to with the parts and pieces on the race car so we can make our cars better.”
“During the racing season, you have every weekend to be at another race which keeps everybody motivated,” Ragan continued. “But during the off season, you have to set goals and have something to look forward to or you can kind of get lost in that period of time.”
“I haven’t taken my tool box up yet, but I do go to the shop, show interest and keep any eye on how things are progressing.”
Ragan is also motivated to not only test the new car on the track but to also get a first hand read on how the fans will react to the new car.
“I haven’t tested the current model yet,” Ragan said. “We’re looking forward to having a car at Daytona and at Charlotte in a couple of weeks.”
“As we build these cars, we just have to take our time and do it right,” Ragan continued. “We’re building these cars to the best of our abilities and will make sure they are fast.”
“I think we will be fast with a little bit more downforce and overall a little lighter,” Ragan said. “So, that equals more speed and I think the cars will be a lot of fun.”
“And the cars look great,” Ragan continued. “They look like a race car and they look cool so that is excellent.”
Ragan acknowledged that he also hopes the new race cars will be motivating when it comes to selling them at the dealership. And he also feels strongly that the new car is just plain important to the sport.
“I think it’s important for the fans to have a sense of relationship with the cars we are racing on the track and those they can buy at the local Ford dealership,” Ragan said. “This is the National Association of Stock Car Racing.”
“We’re not racing an Indy or open wheel car,” Ragan continued. “Our cars are steel. They have a stock appearing look to them.”
“That’s something that goes back to the roots of when NASCAR was conceived,” Ragan said. “So, I think the die-hard, core fans are going to appreciate that and the new fans coming to the sport will appreciate that as well.”
“The fans are excited and the manufacturers are excited,” Ragan continued. “And me, having our Ford dealership down in Georgia, it’s cool.”
“You can see the Ford Fusion sitting on the lot and it looks a lot like the race car we’re going to be racing, so, that’s pretty neat.”
Ragan admitted to being most motivated to address three of his biggest challenges in 2013. And if those three challenges are addressed, Ragan admits that then his motivation will be all about getting to Victory Lane.
“I think three things we need to do a better job to make the next step is to cut our DNFs back, to zero or one, we need to qualify better and we need to be better on pit road,” Ragan said. “If we can eliminate some DNFs, qualify better and the pit crew steps up a bit, there are those three or four positions that we need to be ahead.”
“We realize we are still a growing team and a building team,” Ragan continued. “But it would be great to get Front Row Motorsports their first win and I think we can do it at a couple of races throughout the season.”
“If we can put ourselves for consistent runs and have a chance to win some races, then that would be a successful season.”
Ragan is also motivated by his two teammates, full-time driver David Gilliland and part-timer Josh Wise. And he is most motivated by his sponsors, both new and repeaters such as McCall Farms Peanut Patch.
“We’ve all got a great relationship,” Ragan said of his teammates. “I’ve known David Gilliland through being a part of the Ford Racing family years ago when he was at Yates and I was a newcomer.”
“I knew who Josh was and watched him run some open wheel and Nationwide races and got to talking to him,” Ragan continued. “And I realized that he lived five houses down from where I lived and our back yards adjoined each other.”
“We’re all trying to grow our organization slowly and deliberately each year,” Ragan said. “We want to be smart how we do things.”
“Our owner has a great game plan and we all contribute to that effort.”
“The Peanut Patch and McCall Farms were a great partner last year and saw some good return,” Ragan said. “So, they will be on the car in 2013 for three or four races.”
“We hope that some others will join in as well to announce in the next few days,” Ragan continued. “I think we really want that one full-time sponsor to take the heart of the schedule but we are fortunate that our owner can subsidize some of our races through the Taco Bell and Long John Silver brands.”
“So, we have some good partners and we hope to continue to grow that and to attract a few more,” Ragan said. “That would certainly help us get to the next level, the top ten or fifteen, on a regular basis.”
But most of all, Ragan is motivated by working hard, having fun and the story that he hopes to one day be able to tell.
“Just a few years ago, there was not even a Front Row Motorsports team in Sprint Cup,” Ragan said. “So, in that short time, they’ve done a lot.”
“We’ve had a lot of fun being a part of it,” Ragan continued. “I feel like I have a lot more time to help these guys get to the next level.”
“That would be a great story to sit back one day and talk about how we achieved our goals and had a lot of fun at the same time.”
“But I’d say 2013 will be the year of not giving up and working hard,” Ragan said. “We have a lot of motivation to get on the track and have some fun.”