Commentary

Rookie bragging rights a realistic goal for fifth-place Ragan

Is David Ragan disappointed with his fifth-place standing in the Busch Series? Not a chance. After all, he's the top rookie in a field loaded with Cup drivers, writes Rupen Fofaria.

Updated: September 12, 2007, 12:34 PM ET
By Rupen Fofaria | Special to ESPN.com

David Ragan is racing a full Nextel Cup schedule this season, but his major source of pride this year is sitting fifth in the Busch Series standings.

That's because he doesn't consider himself a Cup driver. Not yet. At 22nd in the Cup standings, having posted just one top-10 finish, he understands he has some growing to do before he will be competitive in the big leagues. That's why his fifth-place ranking in the Busch Series is so rewarding.

"When you're racing there at the end for a top-10, that means a lot in this Busch Series," he said. "... When you're Busch racing, you've got 20 Cup guys and you've got a lot of good teams. To run in the top 10 is just like running in the top 10 on Sunday."

Over on the Busch side, Ragan still hasn't found Victory Lane -- but he does have seven top-10s, and he does lead the rookie points race by 27 over Marcos Ambrose. For Ragan, winning the rookie race is the top goal. And having strung together two straight top-10s, he believes he can do it.

"At this point in the season, we have to focus on securing top-10 finishes every week," he said. "[We] can't afford to have any bad weeks. I believe we can improve in the standings if we continue to run well, but everybody has to be on the same page. I can't stress that enough. Also, our over-the-wall guys have to be consistent, and I have to take care of our equipment. If we put it all together, special things can happen for this team."

Crew chiefs fined
NASCAR fined Scott Zipadelli, crew chief of the No. 47 Ford driven by Kelly Bires, and Stewart Cooper, crew chief of the No. 37 Ford driven by Bobby East, for rules violations at California Speedway.

Zipadelli was fined $2,500 for an unapproved fuel cell installation, and Cooper was fined $1,000 for unapproved slots in the lower A-frame spring bucket.

Keselowski racing at Richmond
Last week, Brad Keselowski was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center for tests after an accident at California Speedway sent his No. 88 Chevrolet riding the SAFER barrier and skidding on its nose before coming to a halt. This week, Keselowski not only got the good news that he was medically cleared to race at Richmond International Raceway, but JR Motorsports tabbed him as its driver for the remainder of the season.

"I just have to commend California Speedway for installing the SAFER wall and NASCAR and other parties for developing it," Keselowski said. "I hit the wall pretty hard, but thanks to the SAFER wall and all the safety equipment I use, I was able to escape injury."

Harvick easy favorite
Kevin Harvick finished fourth in the Busch race this spring at Richmond. For him, it was a bad day. Harvick has only one finish outside the top 10 in his past nine races at Richmond -- he was 12th in the fall 2005 race. During that same span, he has four victories -- two of which came in the past two fall races. He won those in dominating fashion, leading 149 and 203 laps en route to victory in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

"Richmond is one of my favorite tracks to race at," he said, "and I have been fortunate over the years to have a lot of success there."

Rupen Fofaria has covered NASCAR for ESPN.com since 2002. He can be reached at rupenisracin@yahoo.com.

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