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Peach State bonds run deep for Logano, Ragan, Sorenson

June 17, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Peach State bonds run deep for Logano, Ragan, Sorenson
Sprint Cup trio grew up on Legends Car circuit as 'Georgia Gang'

It was an unofficial title, likely created more in fun than in hopes it might strike fear into the competition.
 
Then again, any little advantage helps.
 
“We all lived in Georgia at the time, and we’d go up to Charlotte and run the (Summer) Shootout,” Joey Logano, youngest of the three, said. “And we were called the Georgia Gang. We’d try to go up there and kick everyone’s butt in Charlotte.”
 
Bandoleros and Legends cars. Not necessarily a feeder series for NASCAR hopefuls, but a steppingstone just the same.

"We always hoped and believed, and certainly it was our dream that we would continue to progress up the ranks … to NASCAR racing"

--David Ragan

David Ragan, son of a former NASCAR Cup driver and native of Unadilla, was the oldest, although by only six weeks or so.
 
Reed Sorenson, a product of Peachtree City, had the edge in experience, the first of the trio to begin to progress through the racing ranks.
 
Logano was the Connecticut Yankee, hailing from Middletown, yet he quickly became a fixture inside the small circle of friends once his family relocated to the Peach State.
 
Imagine three youngsters competing in the same sport, on the same playing field, two and three times each and every summer. The kids grow up, grow apart, and perhaps one from the group continues to excel.
 
But all three?
 
“The chances of that happening aren’t very good, slim to none,” Sorenson said. “Just because of how many people race all over the country.
 
“For three people from the same state, let alone three that grew up racing Legends cars from the same area …”
 
“When you go to a Legends car race in Georgia, you wouldn’t think, ‘Oh, three of those guys are going to be Cup racing someday,’” Logano said.
 
“You’d never say that. So that’s pretty cool.”
 
Logano, 23 and driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford, is a two-time winner in the Cup Series. He has 19 career Nationwide Series wins as well.
 
Ragan, 27, scored his second career Cup win earlier this year at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, driving for Front Row Motorsports.
 
And while Sorenson, also 27, is winless in Cup, where he has five career top-fives and 15 top-10s, he is a four-time winner in the Nationwide Series. He currently drives for The Motorsports Group in the Nationwide Series, although he filled in for the injured Michael Annett and Richard Petty Motorsports for seven races earlier this season.
 
“We always hopes and believed, and certainly it was our dream,” Ragan said, “that we would continue to progress up the ranks … to NASCAR racing.
 
“We were really fortunate that we hit it at a good time back in the mid- to early 2000s, where the economy was strong, teams were spending a lot of money on new young development drivers, and there was a wave of some of the older drivers that were retiring. So it was a perfect storm back then.
 
“I think Reed really led the way by going doing ASA racing, (then) he signed on with (team owner Chip) Ganassi. That kind of showed us, ‘Hey, we need to go run some ARCA cars or we need to run some ASA series and try to get on with a team.”
 
By 2009, the dream had become a reality as all three were competing full-time in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
 
But it was the early years that laid the foundation.
 
Sorenson, who began competing in Legends cars in 1998, scored 84 career wins in the series and was the Atlanta Motor Speedway track champion in 1998-99 and ’01.
 
“We were pretty close, especially in the summer when we would travel up to Charlotte for 10 weeks (to race) on Tuesday nights,” he said of competing regularly with Ragan and Logano.
 
On Thursdays, the racing moved back to Atlanta. “And then on Saturdays, we’d all race somewhere too,” he said.
 
That the races were televised was a factor in helping each of the three continue to move up the ladder. That, and the fact that each was highly successful.
 
“In any type of racing series, to be able to be on TV, and for people to see you running well and winning races … that was non-existent for a series (until then),” Sorenson said. “That’s probably one of the biggest things that helped me, to be able to go out there and win races, and have it be on TV where people could see it.”
 
Ragan, the son of former Cup driver Ken Ragan, won the first Bandolero race held at AMS, while Logano holds the distinction of winning a record 14 consecutive feature races at AMS in Legends competition.
 
As they watched Sorenson continue to move up through the ranks, “that certainly gave myself, and I believe Joey, some confidence that if we could continue winning as we moved up, there would be some interest in us,” Ragan said. “And that’s ultimately what happened.
 
Although they’ve move upward and onward, they haven’t totally drifted apart. And they continue to race each other the same way they did when each was first starting out.
 
“We don’t race each other any differently than we did back then,” said Logano. “We raced each other clean, but hard. Nothing dirty, but we raced each other hard.
 
“I remember I pushed David to his first Nationwide Series win at Talladega; I pushed him across the line. That was kind of cool.”

By 2009, the dream had become a reality as all three were competing full-time in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.