One of my best friends and I like to choose a old school driver along with a younger driver to support as our favorite drivers that way when the veteran retires, we have long established in our loyalty for the next generation making the transition easier.
Even before Dale Jarrett retired mid-2008, my friend had long switched his allegiance to Clint Bowyer and the No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet as his new favorite driver to watch.
His new veteran driver replacing Jarrett has since gone unfilled but I had made my allegiances to Jeff Burton for the old and 22-year-old David Ragan for the modern era.
Ragan, in 2007 had quite an impressive rookie campaign. While he did not win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year, he did learn a lot to the tune of two top 5's and 3 top 10's which helped him have a much more impressive sophomore campaign. In 2008 Ragan finished with 6 top 5's and 14 top 10's, including finishing 5th in last year's Daytona 500 clearly as the fourth-best driver for Roush-Fenway Racing behind the star Carl Edwards, old reliable veteran Greg Biffle, and former Winston Cup champion (2003) Matt Kenseth, all of whom own double-digit career victories.
Ragan's contract with UPS supposedly runs out after this season creating quite an enticing situation. Ragan took over for Mark Martin in the famed No. 6 AAA car for the 2007 season, leaving quite a large seat to fill both in terms of popularity, success, and stability that fans came to expect from the ride over the years.
However, long time NASCAR sponsor UPS showed their faith in the young driver last winter by announcing their intention to come aboard the No. 6 ride starting this season and ironically taking over the primary sponsor that was once so synonymous with 1999 Cup Champion Dale Jarrett.
After a strong No. 6 finish in yesterday's Daytona 500, Ragan shows no signs of slowing down, despite now having to share the stable with the defending Daytona 500 champ in No. 17 Matt Kenseth.
While many others keep raking up the accolades, Ragan remains the forgotten man ready to emerge as the next chic choice to win.
Many people see Yates Racing, formerly Robert Yates Racing, for which Jarrett ran during most of his career and where he achieved the majority of his success and notoriety including his lone Cup Championship, as an extension of Roush-Fenway racing since its known that the two organizations share many of the same parts, including engines and most recently chassis.
Therefore, it would not be surprising to see one of Roush's five drivers go to Yates Racing as part of a gentlemen's agreement when NASCAR's new rule of a four-car limit per team is finally enforced in 2010.
Rumors have No. 26 Jaime McMurray whose contract also expires in 2009, as the more logical choice to take over one of Yates' three rides come 2010, but I ask, why not consider Ragan?
He's younger than McMurray (23 to 32), he's clearly got more potential, and most importantly, sponsors like AAA and UPS apparently flock to him because of this potential.
What better way to reunite UPS with Yates Racing than to bring over the actual driver who now bears its logo?
Its no secret that Yates Racing, like most of the other teams outside of Gibbs, Hendrick Motor sports, and Roush suffers from lack of sponsorship, but perhaps no team has taken a bigger financial hit than Yates.
Let's not forget that this three-car operation currently has no full-time sponsor for Travis Kvapil and the No. 28 Ford, and only recently was able to add Ask.com to Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 ride.
Ask.com is the first new source of sponsorship to come into NASCAR in quite some time, due to the economy but it was nonetheless a welcome addition to the team.
Adding Ragan to the team would not only bring guaranteed sponsorship to a team that desperately needs it, but it would reuinite a lost sponsor and bring back instant credibility to the team that it has lacked since Jarrett's peak.
Finally, since Roush and Yates both run Ford models, there would be no need for Ragan to get used to another make or model.
Why should Ragan go along with the idea? He'd finally have a chance to show his skills on a new team out from under a former champion's shadow in Kenseth, and now that he's the Daytona 500 winner, he'll be reminded of that wherever he goes, thus likely pushing Ragan further into oblivion.
That has to be frusterating since many of his fans like myself can just see he's on the verge of finally winning his first of many career cup races.
He can continue to take the skills he learned at Roush and apply them to a new team, where he can truly make a name for himself, yet not lose that competitive edge or support system that the Yates-Roush relationship provides.
As for whose place would Ragan be taking on the Yates team, No. 98 Paul Menard is guaranteed automatic sponsorship that bears his family name as heir to the Menard hardware chain store, there is no doubt he'll remain on the team regardless of the actual competitiveness from his ride.
Veteran Bobby Labonte provides leadership and experience that the rest of the team lacks, not to mention his newfound sponsorship and potentially valuable past champions' provisional (2000), which would leave Wisconsinite Travis Kvapil as the odd man out.
No. 98 Menard, No. 96 Labonte Ask.com, No. 28 Ragan UPS.
The No. 28 car has shown to be a good and competitive ride, provided the right driver is behind the wheel. Even with a veteran like Ricky Rudd in 2007, the team was able to secure valued sponsorship in Snickers for the year that it surely sorely misses.
It just makes too much sense not to happen for those involved, and I for one hope that it does, for competition and nostalgia sake.
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