BRISTOL, Tenn. — Family finished first in this race.
David Ragan is retiring as a full-time NASCAR driver after this season to spend more time at home. The 33-year-old who has been in the sport since the age of 18 and his wife, Jacquelyn, have two daughters he wants to be around more. Julia is the eldest at 5; Meredith is 3.
“One of the things that was kind of a catalyst to this decision was they have some interest in different things they haven’t been able to do because of my schedule,” Ragan said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “They can’t go and do extra gymnastics on the weekends or go to swim lessons because I’m leaving to go to the track or I’ve got a commitment somewhere. … I think it’s an important time in their years as they’re developing and growing older – learning the difference between right and wrong – that I’m there to show them, teach them and love them.”
Currently in the middle of his third consecutive year driving the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, Ragan is ranked 30th in the Monster Energy Series champion standings with 256 points – for perspective, leader Kyle Busch has 892 – and his place in the standings did play a minor part in his Wednesday announcement that he will retire, he said. His last win was in 2013, and he has two Cup victories and 15 top fives since he began competing in the series full time in 2007. The highest he has ever finished in the standings is 13th in 2008.
The season isn’t over, though. There are three races, starting with Saturday’s Bristol Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), until the NASCAR Playoffs begin. Ragan’s hope is to right the ship and have a sold, final run with his team.
“We admire David for making what I’m sure was a very difficult decision,” Front Row Motorsports team owner Bob Jenkins said of Ragan’s retirement in a statement. “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.”
When Ragan looks back on his career, sure, he’d like to have won a title. But he’s not willing to stick around and see if that’ll eventually happen. The sacrifice is too large.
“I think, first off, we should be remembered for who we are, not the accomplishments that we had, the trophies that we had and the amount of zeros in our bank account,” Ragan said. “Those are material things that come and go. When I’m dead in the ground down the road, that stuff doesn’t make any difference. It’s the impact you have on others and what you do for your family, for others that you care about. So, I hope (people) remember me as a good guy, a guy who loves the Lord, loves my family and loves racing. That’s who I am.”
There are specific events – the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and the Eldora Dirty Derby at Eldora Speedway – Ragan would love to participate in now that he’ll have a rather open schedule. Short tracks and late models are also on his radar. He could even break out his Legends car again.
Future plans include an increased involvement with Shriners Hospitals for Children, a sponsor he has a strong relationship with outside of work, too.
Then his TV deal with FOX as an analyst on RaceHub will be further discussed.
Long story short: Ragan will be around the racing world, still. Just not as much. Other responsibilities will take precedence.
“Gymnastics and swimming coach,” he said. “We’ll see how that goes. That’s a real-life stress.”