Veteran David Ragan, the affable and respected driver of the Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford, announced Wednesday morning that he would retire from full-time NASCAR competition following the 2019 season.
The 33-year-old said he will continue to race on a part-time basis in NASCAR and other series at his desire, but that he would officially step away from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series duty at the end of his 13th consecutive season at the sport’s highest level.
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“I’ve prayed and heavily considered this decision, but for myself and my family, I believe this is the right thing to do,” Ragan said in a team statement. “I am a husband and a father to two young girls first, and I am a driver second. To compete in what I consider the greatest series in the world, you need full dedication of your time and focus. My children are growing up quickly, and I want to concentrate my time in being the best father and husband I can be. I feel this is where God is leading my life, and therefore I’m making this decision.
“There aren’t enough words to thank everyone who has helped me in my career and to all the fans who have supported me in this journey. It’s not over, but I’m ready to spend more time at home.”
Ragan has 457 starts in NASCAR’s top series entering this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, good for 10th most among active drivers. And of that total, 204 have come with Bob Jenkins, team owner of Front Row Motorsports.
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Ragan is in his third consecutive year driving for the Jenkins-owned operation, and he previously drove for the team from 2012-14.
The team indicated it would announce its driver plans for the No. 38 Ford Mustang at a later date.
“We admire David for making what I’m sure was a very difficult decision,” Jenkins said in a team release. “We also commend him for his reason. David has always put family first, and as a father, I understand what it’s like to not be at that game or big event for your child. Throughout his time at Front Row Motorsports, David has always gone beyond what was asked of him — or even volunteering his own time to help grow our team. Now it’s time for him to give some of that back to his family and we totally support that. Our doors are always open for David and we’ll miss seeing him every week.”
Ragan has two wins at NASCAR’s top level, including the first-ever Cup Series win for Front Row Motorsports. In the twilight at Talladega in the spring of 2013, Ragan powered to the front of the pack on a green-white-checkered finish. He took the checkered flag thanks to a huge push from then-teammate David Gilliland, giving Jenkins and his organization an incredible 1-2 finish.
Ragan also won at Daytona International Speedway in 2011, when he drove the No. 6 Ford for team owner Jack Roush. Ragan got his start driving for Roush, who brought him into the Cup Series for a pair of races in 2006 when Ragan was 20 years old.
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He would spend the 2006-11 seasons piloting the No. 6, notching 12 of his 15 career top-five finishes and 30 of his 40 career top-10 finishes during that span. Ragan’s best season came for Roush in 2008 at age 22, when he logged six top fives and 14 top 10s to finish 13th in the season standings.
A brief stint with Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing an injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota, was a highlight of Ragan’s 2015, a year in which he also drove for Jenkins and Michael Waltrip.
Ragan also has two victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, both in 2009 for Roush, and also logged 29 starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.