This could be the only start of the season for David Ragan and it still might be one of his busiest campaigns yet.
The long-time Cup Series veteran will race the Pro Late Model portion of Speedfest on Saturday with Hudson Bulger Racing alongside his friend Chris Dilbeck and cousin Brett Ragan, who together oversee that development program.
With the young Bulger still young and not ready for full-time Pro Late Model racing, it was a chance for Brett Ragan and Dilbeck to goad David back into a car at their home track, and it made sense.
“When I had my Late Model program, they ran everything for that car, so a lot of familiar faces and it’s a familiar track,” Ragan said. “It was tough for me to convince my wife and family that I wanted to go to a race track two weeks before Daytona but choosing to step away from full-time racing also gives me the chance to pick and choose like this too, so I’d actually like to race a couple of times this year at some tracks I really miss.
“I don’t think we’re going to make any Cup starts this year so it might give me a chance to do stuff like this every now and then.”
But again, Ragan is busier than ever, most of all being a full-time dad of two girls.
“My girls are six and eight now, really getting to the fun part of being a dad, and I’m actually missing their first ballet to do this.”
“But they’re the reason I stopped racing full-time, to be a better husband and father, and it is a little bittersweet. But racing is a drug. I could turn loose of everything and be at a race track five days a week, but I have to better manage those emotions because my girls need me at home. My wife needs me at home a little bit and it’s a good balance still being a part of something in motorsports.
Ragan is still very involved.
For one, he was the Ford Performance Next Gen test driver during the development stage of that platform and still remains the lead sim driver for the Blue Oval marque. He also has a robust television schedule as a FOX Sports studio analyst and booth color analyst. It’s not a Cup schedule, but he’s still as busy as ever, but rarely having to leave the Charlotte area.
“I’m super content with my schedule,” Ragan said. “I feel like it’s the perfect schedule where I can scratch the itch in a Late Model or Next Gen test when I want to drive a race car. I’d love to make a couple of Truck Series starts. I love that schedule and those trucks. I just didn’t want to be in the position to where I’m having to raise a lot of money, sell myself, do the production days, all the travel.
“I work the same number of days as I did when I was racing full-time but I’m never home later than 7 o’clock and I really get the perfect work-life balance of racing and being a dad and husband. It was hard to do that when you’re racing full-time.”
As for the race on Saturday, Ragan says it’s a really good car, and it’s just been a matter of relearning a platform he hasn’t raced in five years.
“The rhythm feels pretty familiar but there are set-up things that have changed a lot in that time,” Ragan said. “So it was good for me to test (on Thursday) and just get some laps and get a feel for how to make the car better.
“The car feels really good. The track took a lot of rubber, but we’ve been in the ballpark.”
“And if all goes well, maybe this won’t be a one-off.”