Racing insider: Ragan helps boost Front Row Motorsports

When Unadilla’s David Ragan lost his ride in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford and moved to the under-funded Front Row Motorsports, he maintained the positive attitude he’s had since the days he was racing Legends cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

And in the post-race interviews after his surprise victory in last weekend’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, his car owner, Bob Jenkins, said the attitude and work ethic that Ragan brought with him has been a big factor in his keeping his team upbeat in spite of their lack of resources.

“He didn’t look at it as if, ‘Hey, I’m taking a step down here. I realize I’m going to be a back marker or whatever,’” Jenkins said. “He continues to expect a lot out of himself and a lot out of his team and I think what happened is people bought into that and they followed behind him and we’ve seen results from it.”

Ragan said he expects to be a regular front-runner again some day at tracks other than Talladega and Daytona, where restrictor-plate rules level the playing field and make it possible for underdogs to win.

“I’m young, just 27 years old,” he said. “I will get a chance to be competitive and win multiple races and contend for the Chase. It could be with Front Row Motorsports or it could be with someone else. I’m happy with the group I have today and I hope we can keep making progress.”

He said that if a Roger Penske or a Rick Hendrick were to call, he’d listen, as would any driver in the Sprint Cup garage. But Ragan also believes his current team can grow to the point where it’s one of the sport’s elite.

“Front Row is a team that has potential,” he said. “There are days and weekends that we overachieve and weekends that we struggle and are character-building weekends.

“I’m committed to helping Front Row get to that next level. Worked really hard last year and a half and we’ve had some progress. Nothing is happening as fast as I would like it, but you have to have patience.”

Rain-outs rescheduled: The NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be back at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce this weekend for a second try at completing the Southern Nationals. Heavy rains last weekend forced officials to postpone the annual event to this Friday and Saturday.

The Southern Nationals will now be contested over two days instead of three with two qualifying sessions on Friday at 2 and 4 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Steve Torrence is the defending Top Fuel winner at Atlanta. Ron Capps will be defending his Atlanta Funny Car title as will former Atlanta-area resident Greg Anderson in Pro Stock.

The World of Outlaws Late Model dirt races scheduled for last weekend at Lavonia Speedway and Swainsboro Raceway also were victims of rain. The Lavonia event has been rescheduled for Nov. 5, which is two days before the start of the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. There has been no word on a make-up date for Swainsboro.

Penske reshuffles: With its major pit road players serving two-race suspensions for rules violations at Texas Motor Speedway, Penske Racing has announced its backup lineup.

Mike Nelson will serve as team manager. Kevin Buskirk will crew chief Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford with Nick Hensley as his car chief and Jonathan Hassler the race engineer.

Steve Reis will be the crew chief on Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford with Jeffrey Thousand as car chief and Ben Atkins the race engineer. Greg Erwin will be the race-day strategist for the No. 22 team.