Three questions with David Ragan.
David Ragan has been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises in the Sprint Cup Series this season.
The second-year driver from Kannapolis, N.C., has quietly and efficiently positioned himself to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He's currently in 14th position, just 56 points out of the top-12, which will be the cutoff to make the Chase following the race at Richmond six weeks from now.
Although he has yet to win his first career Cup race, Ragan has three top-five and three other top-10 finishes in the season's first 20 races, a respectable achievement for a maturing driver that two years ago was forced to sit out a race by NASCAR due to over-aggressive driving.
Ragan talked prior to this past weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis about how 2008 has played out for him thus far:
Q. How proud are you of what you've done thus far this season?
A. "We're proud of where we're at, but certainly we think that we could be a little better. A few (less) mistakes throughout the year and we would be in the top 10 comfortably. But, we've learned a lot this year and we're really excited about the last 15 or 18 races. … I feel like we've had a good year. It hasn't been perfect, but it's certainly an improvement from last year. We've got to constantly show improvement and get to where we want to be at."
Q. Which is your top priority, to win your first career Cup race or to make the Chase?
A. "Making the Chase is our No. 1 priority right now. Top-five and top-10 finishes, that's what's going to get us there. We can't depend on the other teams struggling (or) having mechanical failure or something like that. We've just got to go out and do what we know is right as a team and try to do what we've been doing all year without making mistakes."
Q. Your crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, is very matter of fact about the success of your No. 6 Ford team and your development this year. What are your thoughts about that?
A. "The bottom line is we're here to do a good job for (our sponsor) and for (team owner) Jack Roush and for Ford Motor Company. You have to look at the bottom line and look at the facts and look at the things that need correcting, and those are the things that we go to work on."
Jerry Bonkowski is National NASCAR Columnist for Yahoo! Sports (Yahoo.com) and a featured contributor for Gatehouse News Service. He can be reached at NASCARColumnist@Yahoo.com.