“Over the last six or 12 months I’ve thought a lot about what my future looked like on the racetrack with my race team and my partners and me as a race car driver,” Ragan said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “A lot of what my future looked like as a husband and a father and a leader of our household, and over the past couple of months, it was really clear to me that it was time to take a step back and be home a little bit more, and it’s pretty simple as that.
“To be a premier race car driver, I think you have to dedicate your life to driving that race car and being the best driver for the team. And that means putting racing first in front of everything else — in front of your family, your kids, your hobbies, a lot of things. So I’ve enjoyed making that sacrifice over the past 10 or 12 years and that’s a sacrifice that was necessary to stay in the Cup Series as long as I have and to keep a job. And I’ve had a lot of fun.”
The racing career, however, is not as important as dedicating his time to his family and his daughters.
“I think it’s an important time in their years, as they’re developing and growing older and learning the difference between right and wrong, that I’m there to show them and to teach them and to love on them,” Ragan said. “I still love racing and have a lot of things that I want to accomplish this year. And I’ll still be around and hopefully racing a little here and little there. But the days of full-time Cup racing and that commitment level, I’m just ready to turn my focus to the household a little bit.”
The 33-year-old Ragan, whose Cup Series career spans 13 years, is in his third season with Front Row Motorsports.
DIBENEDETTO A RAGAN REPLACEMENT?
Front Row Racing may not take long to name a replacement.
Earlier this week, Matt DiBenedetto announced via Twitter that he’d been told he wouldn’t be brought back next year as a driver for Leavine Family Racing.
On Friday, DiBenedetto’s name surfaced almost immediately as a possible replacement for the retiring Ragan.
DiBenedetto has four top-10 finishes in his past eight Cup races and posted the fastest practice time Friday at BMS, a lap at 128.8 mph.
DOUBLE DUTY FOR KYLE
NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch qualified twice Friday — first for Friday night’s Food City 300 Xfinity Series race and then for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. He had the unique opportunity to qualify last in one series and be the first car to qualify in the other series.
Busch was the final driver to take the track to qualify for the Xfinity race and finished well with a time of 15.67 seconds, putting him on the front row alongside pole-winner Austin Cindric.
Being the first car to qualify for the Cup Series race did not work out as well.
Busch qualified 31st after a run of 15.34 seconds (124.085). He was more than 4 mph slower than polesitter Danny Hamlin’s lap of 129.23 mph.