Ragan on Chicago"We've got a new partner with our 38 team for the Chicago race weekend. Connor Co. is a distributor of heating, cooling, plumbing and industrial products -- a family-owned business that has been around for over 80 years. And they're headquartered nearby in Peoria, Illinois, so this will be a home race for them. They've got a big group coming out to the track for the race, and we're excited to welcome them to the sport and the Front Row family.
"The Chicago market has a lot of big NASCAR fans in that area and a lot of history with NASCAR racing dating all the way back to the 60s and 70s maybe at Soldier Field. Chicago’s a fun track. It’s worn out. It races a lot like Atlanta. It’s really bumpy, and it’s really aged well with multiple grooves. It’ll be a different challenge in the hot summer month of July, but it should be fun. We might have more of a temperature swing from midday to the afternoon and evening. I think you might see maybe a little slower speeds compared to last year, just because it’s a little hotter outside.
"Before we even get on track, we're going to have some fun on Friday. I'm going to be driving our No. 38 team hauler in the hauler parade Friday afternoon. Fans might remember I drove our hauler across the country to Sonoma a few years back. This trip will be a whole lot shorter, I'm happy to say. But it will be fun to be back in the driver's seat of our Peterbilt and say hello to all the fans along the parade route."
Ragan Chicago Stats
11 starts, 1 top-10, 4 top-15s
Best finish: 8th
Friday, June 29, 2pm - Chicagoland Speedway Hauler Parade (Champions Park, Chicagoland Speedway)
No. 38 1000Bulbs.com Ford
Started: 28th | Finished: 22nd
"Our team did a really nice job making some adjustments. Our 1000Bulbs.com Ford was a little faster to start the race, but as the track took rubber, we just lost forward drive way too fast. I can't believe we didn't have many cautions toward the end. I know Seth Barbour and our team made a few strategy calls at the end, and we'll have to look at it and learn. I think we can improve for Watkins Glen and try to get a top-15 there."
Ragan on Sonoma"Once I got the hang of Sonoma a little better, it’s been a lot of fun. Sonoma is a challenging road course because you’ve got a lot of different things that are thrown at you. Handling is important, forward drive is important. It’s almost harder to try to be more aggressive because you always go slower. I’ve found that the smoother I can be and the calmer I can be, it might feel slower but you, in turn, go faster with lap times.
"We've got 1000Bulbs.com back on our Ford for the Sonoma race, so we're looking forward to having that group with us. I’m also looking forward to going there with Michael McDowell as a teammate. He’s a good road racer. He should be able to elevate my road course race weekend a little bit. I’ve had a little success at Sonoma in the past. I’ve never had a great finish, but I’ve felt like I’ve been able to qualify well or run well, and now I just need to put it all together.
"I think the phrase of 'just keep all four wheels on the track' is a little outdated. I think the drivers have gotten so much better. You don’t have as many guys spinning out and making mistakes as we did 10 years ago. I feel like 25 guys are really good when we go to Sonoma. And when you see short track guys, like a Martin Truex or Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch, they’re really good at Sonoma without having that road course background. I just think all the drivers have worked on their road racing skills."
Ragan Sonoma Stats
Best finish: 24th
No. 38 MDS Transport Ford
Started: 27th | Finished: 38th
"The 43 just kind of ran in over his head and wrecked us. You will have that sometimes. Guys make mistakes and he made a mistake. It is unfortunate. I feel like our car was going to be OK before that happened. We made some good adjustments to our Ford for today’s race, and I was going to race hard to try to get to halfway before the rain came. It is just one of those days and we will move on
Ragan on Michigan"The racetrack still hasn’t widened out as much as we had all liked for it to. It’s taken some time for that asphalt to mature. It’s getting better and better, and I’m sure this year it’s going to be better than the previous year. But the bottom groove and a half is still the preferred line. We can’t fan out four- and five-wide at the corners like we used to. I think that’s going to come with time.
"Those restarts, you can’t be super aggressive because you don’t have a lot of margin in the corners. So, qualifying is important. We always have long green-flag runs, so it’s important to establish your track position and try to get up front so you can control your own race."
Ragan Michigan Stats
22 starts, 1 top-5, 2 top-10s, 5 top-15s
Best finish: 3rd
No. 38 MDS Transport Ford
Started: 21st | Finished: 16th
"I felt like we ran really good the first stage. We got off a little on adjustments, but the team got the car driving better and a few timely cautions got us back on the lead lap. It was fun to race at the end and we probably finished a few spots higher than we should have finished, but it was nice to finish on the lead lap and be close to a top-15"
Team FRM PR