STATESVILLE, N.C. (November 5, 2013) – Phoenix International Raceway might only be a one-mile track, but David Ragan considers it more of a speedway than a short track these days, and that’s how he and his No. 34 team will approach it for this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race.
A recent reconfiguration and repaving had the Avondale, Ariz., oval leave its short-track image behind. Ragan now considers the track to be a smaller version of some of the circuit’s 1.5-mile venues.
The Taco Bell driver will look for a change of luck in his return to Phoenix. In the series’ first visit to the track this season in March, Ragan was taken out of the race by a ricocheting Danica Patrick, who blew a tire and then bounced off the wall into Ragan’s Ford Fusion.
His best career finish at the track is 10th (2008).
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan heading to Phoenix:
“Phoenix is more of a speedway now. The short-track feel of Phoenix is kind of gone. It’s got new asphalt and a lot of banking, and a lot of speed in the dogleg. So it kind of feels like a small Charlotte or something like that. So we’ve got to change our set-ups around. You’ve got to figure out how to keep that aero platform, which is going to be very critical. It’s going to be interesting to see how it’s aged. It sat out in the hot Phoenix sun for a whole summer now. It will be cool to see on the first few laps if a lot’s changed.
“It takes a couple of runs on the racetrack to get a feel for it and we’ll learn that pretty quick when we get on track for practice Friday. You make a run or two and make an adjustment and you see how much the track’s rubbering in. You see if guys are moving around a whole lot. Usually after about 10 or 15 laps you can get a feel for how aggressive you need to be and how much or how little grip the track’s lost.
“We didn’t really get the chance to run our full race last time. We got taken out by another car that had just bounced off the wall and came back into our path. But we had made some improvements up to that point and the car was driving pretty well. So I’m hoping we can take what we learned from that race and go back and start off well off the truck. And we’ll need a little better luck than we’ve had. Our last two weeks have been disappointing with engine trouble, so we really need to finish off the season on a high note with two good runs at Phoenix and Homestead.”