David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS ‘We Love Logistics’ Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, finally achieved his goal of being a NASCAR Sprint Cup winner, redeeming himself with a victory at Daytona International Speedway.
[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”233″][/media-credit]Even with that win, however, the 25 year old driver is still feeling pressure all around him as he readies for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race weekend. And that pressure has been with him since his first day at Roush Fenway Racing.
“I’ve said it a lot that I’ve had pressure from day one being at Roush Fenway, being a young guy, not having a lot of experience coming in, having a good year my rookie year and an even better year my sophomore year and then really struggling,” Ragan said.
“Coming into this season, we knew we’d have a lot of pressure to run well,” Ragan continued. “We knew we had to win.”
While Ragan has definitely gotten one monkey off his back with his Daytona race win, he acknowledged that the pressure to now make the Chase is even more heavily on his mind.
“Honestly, that win was big,” Ragan said. “And following it up with a top-10 and leading some laps at Kentucky was a Chase caliber run for our team.”
“Wins are very important to us still and that’s what we come to the race track every weekend to do,” Ragan continued. “But top tens, top fives, and leading laps are what’s going to get us to that top ten in points.”
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to make the Chase and I think that brings up more pressure,” Ragan said. “Now we’re so close to capitalizing on the progress that we’ve made.”
“Being right outside that top-10 with the win, it’s like ‘hey, we’ve got to do something with it’,” Ragan continued. “We can’t turn back now.”
Another major looming pressure for the young driver is his future with Roush Fenway Racing, as well as the team’s continued sponsorship relationship with UPS. And for Ragan, he would like nothing better than to have that pressure relieved with the finalization of both of those deals.
“I’m really happy at Roush and the Fords are running great,” Ragan said. “I think Jack’s happy with the performance of the 6 team in comparison to his other teams.”
“A lot of it depends on what UPS does,” Ragan continued. “So, it’s just a matter of the negotiations between Roush and UPS and working out all the details.”
“I still think we’re four to six weeks out from really having some announcements and look forward to some good runs in between them,” Ragan said. “But you can’t stop with what you’ve done. You’ve got to keep going and that’s what’s important.”
“I’m encouraged by some of the recent conversations we’ve had,” Ragan continued. “Things look to be on the good side.”
For this race weekend, Ragan is also feeling the pressure of being good at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a place where he has admittedly struggled at times. Ragan’s best finish in eight appearances at NHMS was 15th during his first ever start at the track in the summer of 2007.
The driver, however, is hoping to take some of the pressure off as he is bringing the same UPS Ford race car that he raced last at Richmond, earning him his first top-five finish of the season.
“Coming off our recent success at Martinsville and Richmond, I’m looking forward to another short track.” Ragan said of NHMS. “Our Fords have improved a lot at the flatter short tracks, so I think we’ve got a good shot.”
“Our Fenway tie to the Boston area means a lot to our team,” Ragan continued. “That gives us extra motivation to get a good finish this weekend in Loudon.”
One way that Ragan has relieved his sense of pressure is by racing his Legends car. He even had a win this past week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I raced my Legends car at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday and won,” Ragan said. “This was in preparation for a big race coming up the first week in August.”
“It’s always fun,” Ragan continued. “I get out there and race three or four times a year and we really enjoy ourselves. So, that win was a good omen for things to come this weekend.”
Although he has had a bit of a pressure release with his Legends win, Ragan knows full well that the pressure will return in force when he gets behind the wheel of his Cup car for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 this Sunday.
“There’s a lot of pressure at this Sprint Cup Series level but that’s what we thrive on,” Ragan sad. “So, it affects us in a good way.”