CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver David Ragan finished ahead of four of the 16 Chase contenders last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver plans to increase that number Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“Those guys in the Chase are there for a reason. It’s because they have fast cars and have raced so well this season. When you can better those drivers then you know you have had a good day,” said Ragan.
“Obviously, we won’t be happy until we are better than every driver and standing in victory lane. But there is a little bit of a sense of accomplishment when you can race all day with those guys and take the checkered flag ahead of them.”
Ragan was the third highest finishing non-Chase driver last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway and one of only 15 drivers to finish on the lead lap.
He knows he’ll have to run well in Loudon, N.H., to enjoy similar success. Ragan qualified third in July and was near the top of the speed chart in Friday and Saturday practices at New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a tough little track. You’ll see a lot of give and take for the first 200 miles or so but as the race winds down guys start driving a little bit harder and aren’t as likely to cut anyone some slack,” he said.
“With only two races before some guys get eliminated in the Chase I think you are going to see intensity like you haven't seen before in 2015.”
Ragan said he wouldn’t be surprised if there are fireworks after the race in New Hampshire like the confrontation between Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick in the driver lot at Chicagoland.
“There’s a lot on the line and not much room at New Hampshire,” said Ragan. “I know the fans love that kind of stuff. Heck, as drivers we love it as long as we aren’t in it.”
Ragan’s No. 55 team expects success at New Hampshire. This team won the race with Brian Vickers in 2013.
“The Aaron’s Dream Machine certainly knows where victory lane is there. My pit crew did four stops under 11 seconds Sunday. If we can qualify well again, repeat those pit stop times, then I think we’ll be in contention.”
· FAST PIT STOPS: The No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine pit crew averaged 11.1 seconds per pit stop at Chicagoland Speedway last weekend. Its four quickest stops ranged from 10.39 to 10.76 seconds.
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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