CORNELIUS, N.C. — Only 10 drivers in the 56-year history of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway own more than one winner’s trophy— David Ragan hopes to become the 11th.
That’s elite company considering 445 drivers have competed in at least one summer race at the 2.5-mile restrictor plate track.
The driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine hopes for a repeat of his 2011 trip to victory lane when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series holds its first Sunday night summer race at Daytona this weekend. The race also marks the return of NBC Sports beginning a 10-year partnership covering America’s premier motorsports series.
DAVID RAGAN ON DAYTONA: “That’s a pretty cool stat and I’d love nothing more than get another Daytona trophy. The 2011 victory was my first career victory and it was especially cool considering how close we came to winning the Daytona 500 that year. We’d led a bunch of laps in February so it wasn’t a fluke when we won in July. You never forget your first victory. That’s always going to be special and this race is always going to be special to me.”
IMPORTANCE OF SUNDAY NIGHT’S RACE: “Every race we run is important but at a restrictor plate race nearly everyone in the race feels like they have a shot to win. That just ups the ante and, considering a win likely means a Chase berth, you will see some pretty aggressive driving. The race is 100 miles shorter than in February so guys might be a touch less patient. I expect a lot of hard racing Sunday night.”
SEASON SO FAR: “This will be my first superspeedway with MWR and obviously I’m optimistic. Clint and Michael (Waltrip) ran really well down there in the Daytona 500. We’ve made progress each week I’ve raced with Michael Waltrip Racing. Last weekend we were racing right there with (winner) Kyle Busch for most of the race. The cool thing about the Chase format is you can turn around your season in one race. I think we have that chance Sunday night. Like a lot of guys in the sport we aren’t where we want to be in points because of some misfortune, but winning Sunday night can elevate our season.”
NBC SPORTS: “I remember watching NBC’s NASCAR coverage when I was coming up and it’s cool to see their return. The Fox folks have always done a good job and I expect NBC will bring new technology and ways to talk about our racing. They are going to be with us a long time. Think about all the changes we’ll see in the next 10 years and they’ll be with us the whole way. I hope we give them a great show Sunday night and the next 10 years. I think it tells you a lot about the power of NASCAR when folks like Fox and NBC want to be part of the sport.”
- DOUBLE DUTY: Ragan will drive the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday night’s XFINITY Series race in Daytona.
- No. 55 CREW CHIEF BRIAN PATTIE: Pattie, 40, joined MWR in 2012 when it formed the No. 15 team-leading driver Clint Bowyer to three victories and a second-place finish in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Zephyrhills, Fla., native began crew chief duties in the XFINITY Series for Joe Nemechek’s NEMCO Motorsports in 1997 before moving to a similar role at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2004. In May 2008, he moved to the Sprint Cup Series with driver Juan Montoya. The duo earned a berth in the 2009 Chase and a win at Watkins Glen in 2010. Pattie owns four Sprint Cup and 10 XFINITY Series victories as a crew chief. The father of four is an avid golfer and supporter of the Florida State Seminoles. In June 2015, MWR paired Pattie with David Ragan on its No. 55 team.
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- 55 CREW:
· RACE FOR RESEARCH: David and wife Jacquelyn Ragan are again serving as the honorary chairman for the LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation's second Annual Race for Research held July 6-8. The three-day road rally includes teams who spend three days in decaled passenger cars navigating through NASCAR country stopping along the way at designated "pit stops," answering scavenger hunt questions, meeting NASCAR legends and even taking laps on famous speedways. During "pit stops," as the participants complete scavenger hunt tasks, they get a chance to look behind the scenes of famous speedways and meet some of Ragan's racing friends. The race begins at Darlington Raceway on July 6 and winds its way through the Carolinas ending July 8 at Michael Waltrip Racing and the GoPro Motorplex. To sign up a team, make a donation to Ragan’s team or another team, or to learn more route details, please visit the event site at http://www.lumindraceforresearch.org
Stops will include:
Darlington Raceway & Museum Charlotte Motor Speedway
Childress Winery Stewart Haas Racing
Sam Bass JR Motorsports
Performance Instruction & Training US Legends Cars
Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Institute
Michael Waltrip Racing GoPro Motorplex
Friday, July 3
1:30 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network
2 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports Network
3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBC Sports Network
4 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBC Sports Network
5 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBC Sports Network
6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network
7 p.m., Off the Grid: Daytona, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, July 4
2:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
6:30 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network
7 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Pre-Race Show, NBC Sports Network
7:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, NBC Sports Network
Sunday, July 5
5 p.m., NASCAR America Sunday, NBC Sports Network
7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pre-Race Show, NBC
7:45 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, NBC
11 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap, NBC Sports Network
Midnight, NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1