David Ragan Could Cement His Daytona 500 Redemption Story
David Ragan is rejoining the NASCAR Cup Series fray for the 2024 Daytona 500. The two-time Cup winner will drive the No. 60 for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, a third entry from the team as a part of its “Stage 60” debut. RFK plans to run the third car in “additional events” for 2024 with further details expected later.
For Ragan, the opportunity presents a legitimate chance for redemption over a decade in the making.
Ragan was leading the 2011 Daytona 500 during a green-white-checker sequence driving the No. 6 Roush Ford. When the green flag flew, Ragan had an exceptional start and passed drafting partner Trevor Bayne before the start-finish line. He didn’t improve his position as he was already the leader, so his “pass” wasn’t against the rulebook. Or so he thought. Ragan was black flagged just prior to a crash bringing out the yellow flag again. He was required to serve a penalty, taking him out of contention for what would have been his first career Cup win on the sport’s biggest stage.
While victory in the 2011 event was far from guaranteed, Ragan and Bayne appeared to be two of the cars to beat in the late stage of the race. And he is fully aware of the what-could-have-been if not for the penalty.
Ragan told Autoweek in 2022 a win in the 2011 Daytona 500 he still regularly thinks about losing, via a controversial penalty, NASCAR’s premier race. While he dismisses it would have changed him as a person, he suggested a win at Daytona could have spurred another contract with team owner Jack Roush. Instead, Ragan spent much of the remainder of his full-time Cup Series career with Front Row Racing and BK Racing mired in the mid-pack. The Daytona 500 win could have forever altered his career trajectory.
The Georgia native did earn redemption soon after his heartbreaking 14th-place finish. Later that year, he won the fall race at Daytona to earn his first Cup win.
Ragan remains a relative longshot to finally put “Daytona 500 winner” on his resume this season with RFK, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
His resume on superspeedways includes his two career wins. In 2022, his last season competing in a Cup car, Ragan finished eighth in the Daytona 500 and ninth in the fall race with Rick Ware Racing, which hardly has the outright speed of RFK. To boot, RFK’s Chris Buescher won the fall 2023 race at Daytona after placing fourth in the Daytona 500, showing RFK has recent success setting a winning car on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
If Ragan is going to have a shot at capturing a career-defining win at 37-years old, he first needs to qualify. His Stage 60 entry does not have a charter, so he must qualify or race his way into the field.