With Kurt Busch and Penske Racing splitting up the search is on for the next driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. With the calendar already on December and few free agent drivers left the name on the top of Penske’s list may be David Ragan.
Ragan had been driving in the #6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing but lost his seat when sponsor UPS opted to scale back its sponsoring in 2012. Ragan was hopeful to find another ride at either the Sprint Cup or Nationwide level. Until now nothing had materialized.
The highlight of Ragan’s tenure at Roush Fenway Racing was his victory at Daytona in July. It was his lone win in 182 starts at the Sprint Cup level and by all means his 30 top-10 finishes during his tenure at Roush Fenway says it best. The sophmore season of 2008 accounted for 14 of those top-10 finishes. He led a whopping 95 laps in five fulltime seasons.
By any statistical means David Ragan’s time at the wheel of the #6 was a failure.Team owner Jack Roush was not satisified with the success the car had and shared his frustration after Homestead.
“David Ragan was a frustration and a disappointment for all of us,” Roush said, “because he was not able to realize the potential that he had, given what his skill is and what the expectations of the sponsor were, and what the performance that was being demonstrated in the car, and what the engineering package was.”
While Jack Roush attempted to clairify those comments it’s hard to disagree with them. Ragan appeared to simply be a car that could turn a fast lap this season. He never capaitalized on his 2008 season and despite being from Georgia never seemed to connect with primarily sponsor UPS.
Penske Racing is in a tough spot due to the late decision to part ways with Busch. The team options for 2012 are limited to Ragan and a handful of other underachievers such as Brian Vickers and David Reutimann. However neither of those two drivers could claim to have worked for an organization with the stature of Roush Fenway Racing.
Sponsor Shell wanted Kurt Busch in the #22 car because they wanted a driver capable of winning a championship. Instead they should have been happy with Brad Keselowski who wound up finishing 5th in the point standings and winning three races compared to the two wins that Busch gathered and the 11th place points finish.
According to Penske officials the company is happy with whoever is chosen as the replacement to Busch. They have to be because all of the drivers available for 2012 have already found rides elsewhere.