CORNELIUS, N.C. — This is a big week for David Ragan both on and off the race track.
The driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine joins the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup field at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday to test new rules designed to create less downforce and help produce more side-by-side competition. After an off day on Thursday, preparations for Saturday night’s race at the Sparta, Ky. track begin on Friday.
“I think this is going to be as important of a test as we have ever had,” said Ragan who finished 12th in the early morning hours Monday at Daytona.
“I applaud NASCAR for working on our cars so that we can put on the best show we can for our fans. I was amazed when I got out of my car at almost 3 a.m. Monday morning and saw how many of our fans were still at Daytona cheering and yelling. I think we put on a great show now, but with some minor rules tweaks we bring even more passing into the races.”
Away from the track, two charities most dear to the 29-year-old Georgian will host special events this week.
He and wife Jacquelyn are the honorary chairman for the LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation's second Annual Race for Research held Monday through Wednesday this week.
The three-day road rally travels from Darlington to Charlotte and 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. Ragan will join the group for dinner on Tuesday before his Kentucky trip.
While in Kentucky, Ragan will use Thursday’s off day to visit the Shriner’s Hospital in Cincinnati. Since naming the Shriners Hospitals for Children his official charity of choice in 2008, he has used his popularity to increase awareness and raise funds for the organization.
On Saturday he’ll host the family of a 13-year-old boy who suffered serious burns as an infant that require him to make regular visit to the Shriner’s hospital until he is 21 years old. Ragan will also host families of Shriner’s patients at Chicago and Charlotte this season.
“I’ve been awfully lucky in life in so many ways. Between my family and my career I feel very fortunate. As you grow older and start looking around, you learn that health isn’t something we can take for granted and there are a lot of people in some very tough health battles. The LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation is making great progress on something that has touched my family,” said Ragan.
“As a Shriner, I’ve seen the work their hospitals do to aid these incredibly brave kids who are just as tough as any race car drivers. I’m honored to do anything I can for them and their families.”
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· KENTUCKY ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME: MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip is a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. The Owensboro native is a two-time Daytona 500 champion inducted in 2010.
· HAULER MILES: Since leaving the MWR race shop for Sonoma Raceway June 23, The No. 55 team hauler has logged 5,476 miles to and from Sonoma, 984 miles back and forth to Daytona and will drive 952 miles round trip to Kentucky race. That’s 7,412 miles.
· LIKES KENTUCKY: David Ragan started and finished eighth in the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Kentucky Speedway in 2011. He also led three laps in that race.
· FANTERN: MWR is offering fans a chance to become an official MWR Fantern. This person will get the opportunity to be an “intern” on race day with MWR; duties including helping the pit crews with set-up activities, attending driver appearances and getting full access to the pit and garage areas. Fans can write in a submission to firstname.lastname@example.org or share a video on our social channels explaining why they should be the Fantern at the race of their choosing during the 2015 season.
- 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.
- 55 CREW:
- CAREER STATISTICS:
Thursday, July 9
10 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FOX Sports 1
2 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBC Sports Network
4 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBC Sports Network
5 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2
7 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Setup, FOX Sports 1
7:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225, FOX Sports 1
Friday, July 10
11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBC Sports Network
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBC Sports Network
3:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
7 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series: Countdown to Green, NBC Sports Network
7:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series race, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, July 11
5 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 2
6 p.m., NASCAR America Saturday, NBC Sports Network
7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pre-Race Show, NBC Sports Network
7:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts, NBC Sports Network
11 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Post-Race Show, NBC Sports Network