DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway is this Sunday February 17, and experts are bound to start making predictions on who will win the Great American Race. With favorites to possibly emerge after the Gander RV Duels, there’s also a darkhorse to keep in mind.
David Ragan will be piloting the No. 38 SelectBlinds.com Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports once again this season. With drivers excited about the new Mustang, expect the success that has been carried in past plate races to continue at Daytona this upcoming weekend.
A driver like Ragan is a perfect match for the Cinderella story of this year’s DAYTONA 500. While Front Row Motorsports may seem underfunded compared to their counterparts, the veteran knows how to get the job done. He has two career wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, both at restrictor plate tracks. His first being at Daytona in the summer of 2011 and his second at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring of 2013.
“That year in 2011 we work close to the front and we made it work. You can’t get caught up in racing, 500 miles is a long race here,” Ragan said during DAYTONA 500 Media Day. “It feels so much longer than the Coke 400. Its 100 miles longer but it feels like its 300 or 400 miles longer so you’ve got to pace yourself to the end.”
With the Gander RV Duels coming up on Thursday night, Ragan looks to improve his starting position after qualifying 23rd on Sunday. Ragan will be participating in the second Duel starting in the middle of the pack in the 11th position.
With the DAYTONA 500 opening the year, it becomes special because you don’t know what to expect from drivers since it’s the first race of the season. New faces can emerge in making a name for themselves and every driver feels like they have a shot at winning the event.
“I think we’ll have a good enough car that we can we can get up front at some point,” Ragan said. “It’s just a matter of when are you in the front of the pack. It’s a big cycle at speedway racing. The leaders get shuffled to the back, the guys in the middle can get shuffled to the front based off of strategy and making good decisions on the racetrack so you’ve just got to make sure that you’re on the right cycle at the end of the race at the right time and to dodge the wrecks.”
Ragan sounded confident during Media Day on Wednesday, and that should in return have people keeping an eye on him to be a dark horse on Sunday during the Great American Race.
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