Unadilla, Ga., native David Ragan knows proper training and preparation today will lead to a long and successful career in NASCAR's elite divisions. Part of that training will take place on Ragan's home track, the Atlanta Motor Speedway during the March 16-18 Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend.
Coming off a fifth-place finish in the season opening Daytona 500, Ragan will draw on two starts in the Craftsman Truck Series on Atlanta Motor Speedway's 1.54-mile quad-oval to hopefully propel him to his first NASCAR victory.
"It's going to be an emotional day," Ragan said of his first start at AMS in a Busch and Cup car. "Atlanta is going to be special, with family and friends, and being so familiar with the surroundings. I grew up in south Georgia, lived in Stockbridge for a number of years, so we've really got a lot of friends coming."
Ragan has a sixth-place finish in last October's Truck event to his credit, but unlike most drivers competing with him, Ragan can boast 10 Legends and Bandolero victories on the "Thunder Ring," Atlanta Motor Speedway's frontstretch quarter-mile oval, and a track championship in 2000.
"Atlanta is a track I grew up racing on, not on the big track, but on the small track," Ragan remembered. "It's certainly going to be emotional to walk across the stage, and hopefully we'll get a big round of applause and run well for the hometown crowd."
With the development of the Busch Series to include NEXTEL Cup regulars, Ragan knows a victory in Saturday's Nicorette 300 won't come easy, but if it did, would be almost as satisfying at snaring the checkered flag in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 Cup race.
"The Busch series has turned into almost a mini-Cup series," Ragan stated. "At any given time you'll have 15-20 Cup drivers running in the Busch series, but I feel our team is capable of winning.
"On the Cup side, I think the main thing now is to gain experience for the years to come. It is nothing that has to happen overnight and we plan on being in a situation with AAA and Roush Racing 20-years from now. We're looking at long term goals, versus next week goals."
Regardless of which series Ragan's first win comes in, he hopes it comes soon.
"A win in anything is great," Ragan said. "Whether it's in an ARCA car, a Legends car, or hopefully a Cup or a Busch car, a win in the first part of the season would set a high standard. You would know that you can go out and win, and it gives the team and everybody a lot of confidence."
Fans can watch Georgia native David Ragan compete in his first Busch Series and NEXTEL Cup Series races at AMS during the March 16-18 Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend. Tickets are still available and can be obtained by contacting the AMS ticket office at 877-9-AMS-TIX.