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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roush sends extra help to slumping Ragan team

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Something is clearly off at the #6 Roush Fenway team, and the boss is finally deciding to do something about it.

After seeing David Ragan, a driver who threatened to make the Chase last year after a great summer stretch full of strong finishes, 2009 has been a disaster. Ragan sits 31st in points, and has only one top 10 finish -- and that came at Daytona in February. Beyond that, he has just three finishes in the top-20, and has been mid-pack or back of the pack everywhere else.

To help cure this curious situation, top Roush engineer Chris Andrews will work with the #6 team for the next several weeks to try to get the ship righted. The move does not change the role of Ragan crew chief Jimmy Fennig.

Ragan downplayed the significance of the move, and said he is looking forward to the extra help, saying “Chris is just kind of bridging the gap between myself and Jimmy, and everyone else in the Roush Fenway organization. A little bit of help is always needed when you’re struggling and in a small slump. I think Chris can just bring a little extra to the table and give me some things to think about. We haven’t been s fast as we’d like, but at the end of the day, we’re all working together for a common goal and that’s to get the UPS Ford back up front.”

I know his role is to be positive, but even Ragan has to recognize that he is in more than a “small slump”. That would be like saying Kevin Harvick is in a small slump this year.

The positive news out of this shakeup is that it appears the #6 team is higher on Roush’s radar than the #26 team, meaning Jamie McMurray is likely the odd man out when Roush must trim down to four teams at the end of the 2009 season. If Roush wants to keep McMurray in the fold, he could be shipped to Roush-affiliated Yates Racing. But if he has worn out his welcome, he could become a free agent and go elsewhere in the garage.

Roush is taking a good approach to this, trying to improve the car so Ragan can run better. As strongly as he drove last year, there is no way his 2009 woes are all due to driver error. But if they get the car running well again, he better be ready to take advantage of that opportunity and move up the point standings, because Roush is not an owner that will remain happy with 31st place forever, regardless of how bright your future might be.

Benson survives scare at local track
West Michigan native Johnny Benson probably didn’t have this in mind when he went to his hometown track at Berlin Raceway. A wreck left his Supermodified car in flames, and he was sent to a Grand Rapids hospital. His condition is improving, and the hospital says he is “expected to be fine,” but it just goes to show that even at a local level, racing is a dangerous sport.

Braun wins for Roush at MIS
Looks like Jack Roush has found another winner in 20-year-old Colin Braun, who won an exciting Truck series race at MIS Saturday afternoon. With three- and four-wide racing all day, it was a battle throughout the field all race, and I hope the Cup race will be equally exciting.

Previous Roush winners in the Truck series include Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, who all have done pretty well for themselves in Cup. The young Braun could indeed mature into a Roush superstar if his future follows a similar path.


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