CORDELE, GA - David Ragan will go green-flag racing long before NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series hits Daytona Beach in a few weeks. The Georgia-born Ragan will headline SpeedFest 2013 this weekend at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga., in the season opener of the Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Series.
The 3/8-mile asphalt track is just a short drive from Ragan's hometown of Unadilla, making the late-model race an annual homecoming for the 27-year-old driver. Ragan looks to top last year's performance at the event, when he grabbed the pole and finished third in his No. 77 David Ragan Inc. Ford.
Teams will practice Friday and qualify Saturday for Sunday's 200-lap main event.
Ragan, who drives the No. 34 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, competes in a handful of late-model races each year with the two-car team he owns and operates out of Concord, N.C.
"It's always a lot of fun to go run a race in January when we have some free time. This race always draws a lot of guys from all over, especially up north where it's still too cold and snowy to go racing, and we just have a lot of fun. And running a race that close to home, I get a lot of friends and family in the stands cheering me on," said the Unadilla native.
"My late model program is two cars. I've got one full-time employee who works on them. Other than that, it's me and my cousin and some volunteer help. Some of the guys from Front Row Motorsports go with us on the weekends to help," Ragan added. "It's a chance for me to go race four or five times a year at the short tracks and just have fun. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's just for fun. But I'm a competitor and I admit I can get caught in the moment of trying to be competitive and want to spend more money than we should on the cars to make improvements here and there. Then I remember to dial it down a bit and remember why I do it."
Talking about the track, which is owned by his uncle, Marvin Ragan, the NASCAR driver said, "Watermelon Capital Speedway is a very fun racetrack. It's D-shaped, where the back straightaway curves a little. It's not your typical short track - it's challenging. Last year we sat on the pole and finished third. It was a good run and we led some laps. Two years ago we finished fifth or sixth, so we usually run pretty well and have had some chances to win. This weekend our goal is to go down there, lead the most laps and win the race."