David Ragan: Expect a surprise winner (or several) in the Chase

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David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports delivered the most stunning result of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season one year ago at Talladega Superspeedway, when Ragan led teammate David Gilliland to a 1-2 finish.

This year, repeating that feat would put Ragan in the Chase for the Sprint Cup thanks to the new format that allows drivers to effectively make the post-season with a victory.

Yesterday, Ragan was upfront about FRM’s chances, saying that “we are not a Chase contender, we’re a wild card contender.” But he recognizes the opportunity that has emerged in 2014 for FRM and other small teams.

“We are not consistent enough to win several races [or] click off five or six top-10s in a row and we realize that,” he said. “But what NASCAR has done has given us a chance to be in the Chase for the championship and that would really change the course of Front Row Motorsports and what we’re trying to achieve as a team and personally as a driver.”

Altogether, he expects to see a surprise regular season winner or two that perhaps may not be able to truly contend in the Chase but can at least get into it and raise their team’s status like Kurt Busch did with Furniture Row Racing last year.

With the “Outlaw” in the cockpit, FRR shook its also-ran status and became the only single-car team to ever make the Chase since its inception in 2004 (Busch is now at Stewart-Haas Racing, while FRR’s running with Martin Truex Jr.)

Ragan sees several competitors that could help their team follow FRR’s lead.

“I think you look at AJ Allmendinger, Casey Mears – they’ve been running a lot better this year – even look at the Petty cars, Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola – they are not consistent enough to make the Chase in the old format,” he said. “I think they would admit that too.

“Look at our team, you look at Tommy Baldwin’s guys, Reed Sorenson had a shot to win the Daytona 500 this year. Yes, there will be one, maybe two cars, that will benefit from the new changes and will make the Chase, absolutely.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.