Team Preview: BK Racing
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 26, 2016 | 10:30 A.M. EST
David Ragan will pilot the No. 23 Toyota, which will be sponsored by Dr. Pepper for a number of race. (Photo: Getty Images)
BK Racing is looking to take its next step in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2016 after hiring a new driver and purchasing some assets from Michael Waltrip Racing.
The team, entering its fifth full-time season, will field two Toyotas for Matt DiBenedetto and newly signed David Ragan. BK Racing also may run a third car on occasion.
Ragan has competed full-time in the Cup Series since 2007 and has two career wins. He comes to BKR after running the final 26 races last year for MWR, which closed its doors at season's end. Ragan began the 2015 season with Front Row Motorsports then moved to Joe Gibbs Racing to sub for the injured Kyle Busch.
"One door closes and another door opens," said Ragan, who will drive the No. 23 Camry. "This is an opportunity to help a smaller team take that next step to being more competitive on and off the racetrack."
Ragan will be reunited with some familiar faces at BKR.
"When I walk around the shop, I recognize a lot of great people I worked with at Roush (Fenway Racing) many years ago, some guys I worked with at Front Row that I have a lot of respect for and - most importantly - some guys that worked at Michael Waltrip Racing last year," Ragan said.
With MWR cars added to the stable, Patrick Donahue will be Ragan's crew chief while Gene Nead will call the shots for DiBenedetto.
"We updated some of our equipment," Ragan said, "but it’s also important that I give good feedback, that Matt can give good feedback so we can continue to evolve these racecars. We can’t sit back and rely on what’s good today or what was good yesterday to carry us through the year."
Doug Richert, who was DiBenedetto's crew chief for a majority of last season, will oversee the wind tunnel and test team.
"We've got good people and good ideas," Ragan said. "There are a lot of folks that are going to work hard to make these cars more competitive."
DiBenedetto made 33 starts in his first season with BK Racing in 2015, posting a best finish of 18th in the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway.
"Last year, I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to having a full notebook heading into the season," he said.
Dr. Pepper, who has been with BK Racing since its inception, will sponsor Ragan for multiple races in 2016. Returning sponsors Dustless Blasting and Cosmo Motors will support DiBenedetto in a number of events, with Dustless Blasting featured on the No. 83 entry for next month's season-opening Daytona 500.