Ragan Off To Great Start

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While David Gilliland stole the show with his Daytona 500 pole-winning run on Sunday, another rookie named David also had a pretty good day.

David Ragan turned in an impressive qualifying run of his own, recording the fifth fastest lap of the session in the Roush Racing AAA Ford.

"That’s pretty special," Ragan said after his run. "You come down to Daytona and you just have to give all the credit to the guys back at the shop. This is purely months and months of hard work with guys like Jimmy Fennig and all the guys at the Roush Yates Engine shop."

The qualifying success was a big boost for the young Georgia driver, who took over Roush's No. 6 from legend Mark Martin. After a less than spectacular NEXTEL Cup Series debut at Martinsville last October, many felt Ragan wasn't ready for the step up. But he's off to a good start and has so far proven to be a worthy choice by team owner Jack Roush.

"Sometimes you think, ‘Is this really the case?," Ragan said. "Growing up, obviously, as a big fan all the time I’ve been a Mark Martin fan, Dale Jarrett fan, and to say, ‘Man, am I really here racing with these guys now?’ It’s special and it’s cool to think like that, but at the same time you realize how much hard work is really ahead of us. There’s not a lot of time to think about how cool it is to be here, it’s just a matter of, ‘let’s do the right thing so we can stay here.’"

Ragan's weekend included another success when he scored a top five finish in Saturday's ARCA 200.

"Anytime you can come to Daytona with a top-five finish in any kind of series it’s a positive momentum builder for the rest of the week and the rest of the year," Ragan said. "Certainly we hoped to come out with a win. I know Bobby Gerhardt has really done his homework over the last few years, but Frank and I tried to give him a run for his money the last few laps and we just came up a little short. Nevertheless, a top five run was good for the AAA Ford Fusion."

So with ARCA and qualifying out of the way, Ragan's busy week will continue as he prepares for Thursday's Gatorade Duel's at Daytona, where he will start second in the first 150-mile race, and Saturday's Orbitz 300 Busch Series race.

“Yeah, I’m just ready to move onto the next task at hand," he said. "Now my goal is obviously the Busch car on Wednesday and then the Cup car Thursday for the 150, so whatever the next task is that’s what I’m focused on, so I’m probably gonna go back to the motorhome and watch a copy of last year’s 150 – study up a little bit and be ready to go."

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