David Ragan brings top NASCAR talent to Thursday Thunder Week 3 at AMS
David Ragan cut his teeth in Legends cars on the quarter-mile Thunder Ring at Atlanta Motor Speedway more than 16 years ago on his way to a career at NASCAR's top level. This week, the Unadilla, Georgia native who drives full time for BK Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will return to his roots, making starts in the Racing Radios Pro Division on Wednesday and Thursday in Week 3 of the Thursday Thunder Legends Racing Series presented by Papa John's Pizza.
One of the most accomplished drivers to graduate from the AMS Legends program, Ragan raced in Thursday Thunder from 1998 to 2000, compiling nine wins and 21 top-5 finishes in 31 starts. He capped off his Legends career by winning the 2000 Semi-Pro Division championship, edging his cousin, Brett Ragan, by just 16 points for the title.
Ragan, whose father and also a former NASCAR driver, Ken Ragan, ran the Legends program at AMS during David's time there and recently returned to the post, where he has injected new energy into the program over the past two seasons. David said that with his dad back at the helm of the program and some convenient timing in his busy schedule, it was a great opportunity to climb back behind the wheel of his Legends car and revisit his familiar stomping grounds.
"My dad has been having a good time being back involved with the program at AMS, so I wanted to come down and support the program that I was a part of for many years," he said. "Being that I had an off-weekend from my Sprint Cup Series schedule, it worked out well to bring my family down to enjoy the races and do some things around the Atlanta area."
Since his Thursday Thunder days, Ragan has made one Legends start on the Thunder Ring, placing second in a Pro Division race in 2009. He also ran a road course race at Charlotte in his Legends car last fall, but spending time in the garage with familiar faces is one thing he's most looking forward to.
"It will be a lot of fun to come back and see some of the old guys that I used to race with and that were involved in the series when I ran it full time," he said. "It will also be fun to see the new talent that is competing down there."
Pre-race nostalgia notwithstanding, the Sprint Cup Series regular has no plans to coast around the quarter-mile. Stiff competition like Week 1 Racing Radios Pro Division winner Mason Massey of Douglasville and Week 2 winner William Plemons III of Acworth won't be easy to beat, no matter what kind of talent Ragan brings.
"I want to have fun but also take it serious and try to win," said Ragan. "The Pro class is tough, and the guys in the division are really good, so I want to respect those guys who are racing for a season championship, but I also want to try to win."
Ragan will try to do just that on back-to-back nights on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, in one of two special Wednesday-night editions of the summer racing series this season.
In the Bandits Division, Bowersville's Clay Thompson will put his two-week win streak on the line with both Nathan Jackson of McDonough and Isabella Robusto of Fort Mill, South Carolina within striking distance of his points lead. Likewise, DJ Canipe of Fallston, North Carolina will look to extend his mastery of the Live Oak Plantation Outlaw Division with a third consecutive victory to open the season.
McDonough's Scott Moseley enters the two-race Week 3 with a narrow lead in the Plemons Investments Masters Division. Trailing him by just nine points each, Robbie Woodall of McDonough and Tina Johnson of Senoia have made it interesting in the early going this season, and both pose a major threat to challenge for key wins this week.
In a tight Atlanta Heart Associates Semi-Pro Division, Jensen Jorgensen of Stockbridge, who sits just three points off the lead, and Lagrange's Jason Treschl, a mere six points off the pace, will try to catch leader Brandon Brock of Hampton in what will undoubtedly produce an epic season-long battle for the title.
In the Plemons Investments Young Lions Division, Brody Pope of Harrisonville, Missouri and Cale Hall of Griffin both trail leader Sammy Smith of Johnson, Iowa in the standings entering the week despite Smith's lack of a win. Pope, who won in Week 1, and Hall, the Week 2 winner, have Smith's consistency to contend with, as Smith is the only driver to post top-5 finishes in both races so far this season.
Infield admission only will be available for spectators on Wednesday evening for $20, and passes may be purchased at the Security Command building near the speedway's entrance. Normal grandstand admission will be available on Thursday, and admission is just $5 per person and free for kids 5 and under.
For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.