Drivers give their takes on California dustup Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jeff Gordon said he felt he had run out of options. David Ragan said he thought he could hold Gordon off. The result was a spin by Ragan during last weekend's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway that brought out the day's first caution less than 25 laps into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Ragan , filling in for the fourth consecutive week for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that "at the end of the day, I certainly got the bad end of the deal." "I was in the preferred line but Jeff was a little faster than me at the time," Ragan said before heading out to take part in the day’s lone practice at the 0.526-mile track. "Looking back at it, I probably would have just let him by knowing that I was going to be the one that was coming off Turn 4 backwards." The two were battling for seventh place when Gordon's Chevrolet drew close enough to the left-rear of Ragan's car to send it into a spin. The move came after Gordon had shot underneath, only to see the JGR driver flash back by on the high side of the 2-mile track. "We were moving forward at that time – both me and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson)," the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. "We caught David . He was definitely struggling and trying to hang on until the pit stop where they could make some adjustments. He was letting off real early in the corner." Johnson cleared Ragan and had driven away when Gordon made his initial move to the inside. While he could have moved up the track and in front of Ragan , Gordon said he thought "I'm not going to do a slide job on the guy this early in the race. We'll see if he wants to race me hard or not.” And that, Gordon said, is what transpired. "He raced me hard on the outside," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "A couple laps later I got inside him again, and this time I crowded him a little bit more. He got all over my door; got me loose and so I basically said at that point that I was going to have to do it the hard way. "I know on the radio I said I may have to use the bumper, and I would have if I could have gotten to him and tapped him a little. But I didn't have to. I just got up to him and he was already pretty loose. I just took the air off of him to just get him to lift, but he didn't lift. He stayed in the gas and spun out." Ragan said he didn't give Gordon the spot because he felt "maybe once I got my track bar adjusted a little bit and kind of got my rhythm I felt like I might could pull away from him. "I did feel like once I could get my car going in the top lane that I could be a little better. Jeff was a little impatient. He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't give me a break. And I didn't give him a break either. "What I can learn from that is it was early in the race, that one spot didn't matter. I could have had a little bit of give and take and the 24 could have had a little bit of give and take. It's one of those things that at the end of the day I got the bad end of the deal and that's sucked. I learned from it and moved on." The two spoke briefly after the race, the fifth of 36 that make up the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule and the final stop of a three-race West Coast swing that began in Las Vegas and moved to Phoenix before wrapping up at Auto Club "I don't expect somebody to just let me go by them, but when you're that much faster than somebody else, you have to make a choice: 'How do I want to race at this point and this stage in the race? Is it worth it to me?'" Gordon said Friday. "In my opinion and on a track that was that difficult to pass on, I was going to get up behind him. I never touched him, but I definitely took the air off of him." "Jeff's obviously a champion and a smart racer and you've got to give him some respect," Ragan said. "I raced him like I would anybody else. But at the beginning of a race we both have to have some give and take; he's lucky that he didn't get collected somehow. If I would have spun a little earlier in the corner and he couldn't turn down, he very well could have been collected too and it would have been a bad deal for both of us." Gordon eventually finished 10th while Ragan was 18th. He finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona 500 while driving for Front Row Motorsports , and has finished 18th, 22nd, 21st and 18th since taking over for Busch. "I feel like the last couple of weeks have been good," Ragan said. "I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a good finish to show for (it), I think we've had some pretty good cars. "I think we've had a top-10 car every week besides Phoenix, and that's disappointing when you don't finish where you think you should – for several reasons, from mistakes on my behalf to just poor racing luck to situations like we had last week. "We could win one of these things, break off with two or three top-fives in a row and it wouldn't surprise me. But we've just got to put a whole weekend together." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeff Gordon goes into detail about why he helped spin-out David Ragan at Auto Club Speedway.
Veteran to drive for JGR starting with Atlanta Sprint Cup race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Joe Gibbs Racing announced Tuesday that David Ragan will serve as interim driver in place of injured Kyle Busch for the next several weeks beginning this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team said in a statement that Ragan , a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran, will run JGR's No. 18 Toyota as Busch recovers from multiple lower-leg injuries suffered in a crash Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Matt Crafton, champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the last two seasons, finished 18th as a last-minute fill-in for the season-opening Daytona 500. Front Row Motorsports and sponsor CSX accommodated Ragan's move, according to JGR. Ragan is expected to return to the team later this season. A spokesperson for Front Row Motorsports said there was "no announcement yet" regarding their plans for the No. 34 Ford at Atlanta. Erik Jones will pilot the No. 54 Toyota at Atlanta in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JGR. Busch was expected to compete in the XFINITY Series' Hisense 250 (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Atlanta in JGR's No. 54 Toyota. An announcement on who will drive the No. 54 following the Atlanta race will be made at a later date, according to the team. "We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and CSX for David's ( Ragan ) availability," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David's caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers. Erik is a big part of our future at JGR and we will be increasing his schedule in the XFINITY Series beginning this weekend in Atlanta and seeking the earliest opportunity to provide him Cup experience. We appreciate all the support we have received from the NASCAR community including our fans and we look forward to getting Kyle back in the car as soon as possible." Kyle Busch's wife, Samantha, wished David Ragan luck on Twitter after the news was announced. Thx to David 4 filling in for Kyle. @JacquelynRagan is 1 of my best friends n they r the nicest ppl in the world,wishing them much success! — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) February 24, 2015 Ragan , 29, drove the Front Row Motorsports' No. 34 Ford in Sunday's Daytona 500 and has competed in the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons, bringing the Statesville, North Carolina-based team its only premier series victory in May 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway. Before his tenure at Front Row, Ragan raced for Roush Fenway Racing from 2007-2011. Interesting enough, Ragan was teammates with current JGR drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards as recently as the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season, while all three were at Roush Fenway. Jones, a three-time winner in Truck Series competition last year and a four-time winner in his career, was in consideration for the ride in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX), which would have made him the first active NASCAR Next driver to make a Sprint Cup start. Ultimately, JGR went with Ragan , a driver with eight full seasons of top-division experience and home-state ties, having grown up in Unadilla, Georgia, roughly 100 miles south of the Atlanta track. Busch, also 29, was released from a Florida hospital Tuesday for further treatment at a facility near his North Carolina home. The move came three days after the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona, where Busch suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a broken left foot, indefinitely placing him on the sidelines. Ragan's transition to the Gibbs team marks an abrupt shift in manufacturers, as his 291 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series have all come in Fords. It also creates a domino-effect vacancy at the Bob Jenkins-owned Front Row organization, which expanded to three full-time teams in the offseason with David Gilliland and Cole Whitt filling the other two seats. Ragan finished 17th in Sunday's Daytona 500, placing him 16th and in the final spot in the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason grid after the season's first race. Per NASCAR rules, if one driver switches teams during the 26-race regular season, the driver remains eligible for Chase consideration as long as he remains in the top 30 in points. Jones ranks second in the Camping World Truck Series points after his runner-up finish in the Daytona opener. He's scheduled to compete in the full truck season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and was expected to race in 10 XFINITY events for Joe Gibbs Racing. NASCAR.com's Zack Albert contributed to this report MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeff Gordon spins David Ragan after battling for the 7th position at Auto Club Speedway.
KFC will be on the No. 34 Ford in the Daytona 500 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Front Row Motorsports announced Friday that David Ragan will return to its No. 34 Ford team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with sponsorship from KFC for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Ragan -- entering his fourth year with team owner Bob Jenkins and his ninth full season at NASCAR's top level -- is a two-time Sprint Cup winner, including a victory in July 2011 at Daytona International Speedway. Nearly two years later, he gave Front Row its only premier series win at Talladega Superspeedway. That success prompted a one-race deal with KFC last May at Talladega, a pairing that will be renewed Feb. 22 in the Daytona 500. "It's great to have KFC back on our No. 34 for another superspeedway race," Ragan said in a release provided by the team. "We had fun with the partnership last year, we got them lots of attention running up front, and we look forward to doing that again in Daytona." Ragan struggled last season, logging just one top-10 finish as the No. 34 team limped to a tie for 32nd place in the final Sprint Cup standings. But the Statesville, North Carolina-based team has solidified its driver roster in the offseason by re-signing veteran David Gilliland and adding 23-year-old Cole Whitt to a full-time third team. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joe Nemechek taking over at Atlanta while Ragan subs for Kyle Busch
Both drivers racing No. 34 special paint schemes this weekend at Martinsville RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Darrell Wallace Jr . and David Ragan unveiled special paint schemes several weeks back, giving a sneak peek at their tribute to future NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in this weekend's races. Friday at Martinsville Speedway , their matching powder-blue No. 34 designs first took to the track with an appropriate throwback touch. On the back of each vehicle was a nod to the do-it-yourself spirit that made Scott a racing pioneer -- plain script that said, "Mechanic: Me!" While both Ragan and Wallace have shown plenty of versatility in their driving careers, could the weekend feature a hands-on tribute to Scott's practice of changing his own tires in a pit stop? Wallace, for one, seemed willing to give it a shot. "I think our first pit stop today is just going to be me," Wallace said before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Kroger 200 . "They're just going to sit on the wall and eat ice cream -- I'm going to get out and change our tires for that stop. 'Mechanic, Me,' that's pretty cool to see that. I saw him (Scott) on TV pointing to it and I did the same thing so it's kind of cool to see that and see what they used to do back in the day and see how the sport has changed as a whole." Ragan , who has a mechanical bent as part of his racing background, agreed. "It's cool to embrace that," he said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of good employees that are going to be wrenching on our Front Row Motorsports car this weekend, so they probably won't let me touch it, but I grew up racing and working on my own race car, so I have an appreciation for what goes into building one of these cars and to know what Wendell was able to do with limited resources and probably a small crew back in the day, it makes you appreciate the accomplishments even more." Wallace landed his first Truck Series triumph at Martinsville last fall, becoming the first African-American winner in a NASCAR national division since Scott's lone premier series victory on Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida. Saturday, he was joined by Scott's descendants, who made the trip to lend their continued support from the driver's nearby hometown of Danville, Virginia. "As many times as they've texted me my phone bills have gone up," Wallace said of his communication and with the Scott family. "It's been really cool to have that relationship with the Scott family. I was doing appearances with them last week and really getting to know them just outside of racing and in school hearing all the stories about (Wendell) Senior and that's something cool. ... It's cool he keeps it interesting and he's always on me about being the best person I can and doing the right thing. It's always some help for sure." Wallace shifted from his customary No. 54 to honor this weekend's occasion and Scott's approaching induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For Ragan , the tribute didn't involve changing a car number. When Ragan scored a thrilling triumph at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring of 2013, it marked the first time since Scott's landmark win that the No. 34 had visited Victory Lane in NASCAR's top series, the scrappy Front Row team's win also resonating with Scott's underdog spirit. "As a driver you always pay attention to the car numbers that you have and you're always interested to go back and look at the history of those numbers," said Ragan , who joined the Bob Jenkins-owned team in 2012. "Throughout a career you don't often see one driver stay with one car number their entire career through the different divisions, so when I got in the number 34 you definitely look back and see who raced it and who won. That was one of the first things that crossed my mind when we were able to get that victory last season, the significance of it, and it was quite a big deal so it's definitely coming full circle here driving a tribute car for them here at Martinsville this weekend." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
David Ragan talks about his decision to drive the No. 18 Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing while Kyle Busch remains sidelined.
David Ragan and Mike Wallace talk about making the Daytona 500.
Driver of the No. 34 Ford will have a retro look at Martinsville RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota BUY: Purchase the No. 34 David Ragan Wendell Scott NASCAR Hall of Fame 2015 die-cast CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Taking the wraps off a new No. 34, revealing a car in the likeness of his famous father's racers, was enough to get Wendell Scott Jr.'s adrenaline pumping. The boldly styled number, the familiar pale and almost pewter blue against the backdrop of a modern Front Row Motorsports Ford had the next-generation Scott -- who claims to be 68 years old ("I've lied about it so much, I can't even remember") -- ready to turn back the clock himself Tuesday afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "I'm ready to do some hot laps in that bad boy," Scott said, forming a wry grin. "Yeah, it is cool. It's our pet color. My brother Frankie used to do the bodywork on them, so it means a lot." When the car takes to the track Oct. 26 for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's seventh battle at Martinsville Speedway , the driving duties will fall instead to David Ragan , but the name of 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott will still adorn the top of the driver's door. The car was part of a double-unveil Tuesday in the stock-car shrine's Great Hall; Darrell Wallace Jr. will change his traditional No. 54 to 34 for the fall race weekend in Martinsville, where he is the defending winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . Though there were some subtle differences from the paint scheme on Ragan's 2014 Generation-6 model and the 1960s Chevrolet Impala tribute car carrying Scott's colors, many of the retro styling cues carried over. Ragan was among the team's biggest advocates for keeping the throwback look as authentic as possible, even down to the period-correct "380 horsepower" claim on the hood. "Cars back then just looked a little different," Ragan said. "Maybe they didn't have the opportunities for the graphics and designs, and a lot of this stuff was hand-lettered back in the day. Definitely, an honor to represent and really to drive a car similar to what a Hall of Famer did." The No. 34 has just three victories in NASCAR's premier series, but all have their place in the sport's history. -- Kansas native Jim Roper campaigned the No. 34 on the Lincoln that won the inaugural event for the NASCAR Strictly Stock Division, now the Sprint Cup Series. -- In 1963, Scott notched the first victory by an African-American driver in the top rung of the NASCAR ladder with the No. 34. That breakthrough stood as the only win by an African-American in a NASCAR national series until Wallace's triumph last fall at Martinsville, not far from Scott's hometown of Danville, Virginia. -- Almost 50 years after Scott's lone victory, Ragan posted a thrilling upset at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2013 for a 1-2 sweep by the Front Row team and a first trip to Victory Lane for team owner Bob Jenkins. Next month at Martinsville, Ragan hopes to make more history, but will need more horsepower than the 380 advertised. Ragan's team has faced challenges as a lesser-funded team competing against the sport's powerhouses. That gap was underscored last weekend as Ragan competed at Chicagoland Speedway as a Chase outsider. Ragan said that changes to the 2014 rules package left the Front Row team playing catch-up against its better-heeled rivals, issues that the organization aims to address as it presses on. "We have struggled a lot and have a lot of unanswered questions," Ragan said. "We're hoping that there's not a big change in the package going forward and we'll be able to continue to evolve." If the going gets tougher, Ragan said he's not afraid to get some dirt under his fingernails. Reminded that Scott once exited the cockpit to change his own tires during a pit stop in the sport's formative years, Ragan said he wouldn't hesitate to apply the same old-school type of elbow grease if the need arose. "I do have a mechanic in me, and I am certified to work on these cars a little bit, but I don't know that my crew chief will let me," Ragan cracked. "Hopefully our guys will be able to pick up the slack on the weekend and cover me, but if I had to -- if push came to shove -- I could get out and do a pit stop." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation