By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
*Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into next month’s 61st running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: 12
Career Wins: Two
Although the 2018 on-track results fail to show it, David Ragan had his best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season since 2011 as the veteran driver finished 25th in the final championship standings.
In 2018, Ragan earned just one top-10 finish, at the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway. The season also marked the first time in his full-time Cup career that he failed to lead at least one lap throughout the entire season.
However, evidence of the improved performance for Ragan can be seen in his top-20 finishes. He finished inside the top-20 in 13 races in 2018, up from seven the year before.
“I think some things, on and off the racetrack, has allowed Michael (McDowell) and I to be more competitive,” Ragan explained. “We’re coming off of a good season. By no means are we happy with our performance every single week, there are some areas we can improve on and do better. In general, we’ve had some great days, some wins, a Playoff berth with Chris Buescher a few years ago.”
For the 2019 season, Ragan will have a lot on his plate, a new aero package, race car, race shop, and teammate in Matt Tifft. The last time that the Unadilla, GA native had multiple teammates was his nine-race stint subbing for an injured Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. It was during that stint that Ragan earned his most recent top-five finish, a fifth-place at Martinsville Speedway.
Ragan’s last win came with the Bob Jenkin’s owned team in 2013 at Talladega, one year prior to the implementation of the Playoffs. He has yet to achieve a Playoff berth, coming closest in the Chase era, when in 2008 he earned his career-best result in the final championship standings, 13th.
“Front Row has a lot to be proud of, but we have a lot in the future that we can go out and grab,” Ragan said. “Having Matt Tifft join us solidifies our program, being more competitive, have more employees, better racecars, and an extra car on the racetrack that we have the opportunity to win a race, get a top-five, top-10s.
“Bob’s done a nice job growing this team with the vision that he’s had, and I’ve enjoyed being a small part of that over these last few years.”
Despite the unknowns facing Ragan and his teammates entering the 2019 season, signs of continued improvement for Front Row Motorsports will likely show in results throughout the season.