Ragan readies for a squeeze at Darlington

The (Myrtle Beach) Sun NewsMay 8, 2013 

  • SOUTHERN 500

    SITE: Darlington

    SCHEDULE: Friday, practice (Speed, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.), qualifying (Speed, 5-6:30 p.m.); Saturday, race, 6:45 p.m. (FOX, 6:30-10:30 p.m.).

— As David Ragan looks forward to racing at Darlington, it’s still hard to get the goosebumps from his win at Talladega this past Sunday out of his system.

Ragan’s teammate, David Gilliland, locked up with him for a last-lap push to the finish. Both Front Row Motorsports drivers made their way to the front, which led Ragan into Victory Lane for the small organization’s first victory.

“We’re still excited to have that win,” said Ragan, who has two Sprint Cup victories. “We’re definitely getting ready for Darlington, but there’s a lot of racing left in the 2013 season.”

Ragan, in his second year at Front Row, hopes the momentum helps lead to a solid finish in the Southern 500 on Saturday night at “The Lady in Black.”

“It gives us a lot of confidence as a team,” said Ragan. “You can always look back and it always gives you some extra confidence. Since it’s such a different racetrack, not a whole lot will carry over to Darlington.

“Darlington is very unusual. It’s a narrow racetrack, so it’s tough to get the right setups in. It’s very hot and muggy there this time of year, too. But Darlington is mentally tough and very demanding physically, as well.”

Ragan has had mixed results at Darlington Raceway. His best finish was fifth in the 2008 Dodge Avenger 500. Last year, after starting 37th, Ragan drove his Ford to a 28th-place finish.

“I think I got one top 5, a top 15 and then a couple of bad runs,” he said. “Darlington is tough racetrack, it’s a tough place. It’s a fan-favorite, but it’s very challenging, so we’re looking forward to getting down there.”

Ragan hopes his win at Talladega will help open new sponsorship avenues, a key to keeping a Cup team in competition.

At Darlington, Ragan will drive the Peanut Patch No. 34 Ford Fusion. This is the second primary race Peanut Patch has sponsored, having made its debut at the track last year.

“They’re an S.C.-local company, so it’s great to have them on our car this weekend,” Ragan said.

Woody Swink, regional director of sales and an owner of McCall Farms, which produces Peanut Patch, said the company is enthused about its presence at the Southern 500.

“NASCAR has been a goal of ours for over 10 years now,” Swink said. “It was always a dream to be on the hood of a car and do several races. David Ragan is a great representative. He fits everything our company believes in with everything he does. He’s a hard-working go-getter, and we just appreciate the way he goes about racing.

Should Ragan win Saturday, a unique Victory Lane celebration will ensue, Swink said.

“We’ll give him the boiled peanut bath,” Swink said. “Many drivers get a Gatorade bath, but we’ll plan on dumping two big cans of boiled peanuts on him if he wins.”

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