No one enjoys being in a traffic jam, but David Ragan can't wait to get into the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 will return Ragan to one of his favorite tracks - the .526-mile oval nicknamed "The Paperclip."
The race will be his second event at a short track with his new No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team. The first resulted in a 23rd-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Ragan has 11 starts at Martinsville, including one top-10 and four top-15 finishes. His best result was eighth in the spring race one year ago.
Comments from Front Row Motorsports team driver David Ragan heading to Martinsville:
"I love racing at Martinsville. It's one of my favorite tracks. And I think our Front Row Motorsports team can do well there. Short tracks are one of the areas that we know we can be competitive, and we showed that in Bristol. We may not have started out with the car we wanted when we unloaded, but we got it handling pretty good by race day, and we just kept working on it and working on it and came out of there with a decent top-25 finish.
"We're going to want to unload in pretty good shape at Martinsville so we can work on fine-tuning and getting as much speed out of our car as we can. Track position is really important there, so we want to qualify as well as we can. Once the race gets started and you have 43 cars trying to squeeze around that half-mile track, it gets pretty congested pretty quick and it's just really tough to pass.
"Martinsville is the shortest track we go to and, because of that, it's also the slowest. But in a lot of ways, it's the hardest to drive. There's no place to give yourself a breather for a couple seconds or no times when there's no one right up on your bumper. Racing at Martinsville is like being in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 90 miles an hour. You're tough on your brakes and you can be hard on the throttle, too. There's not much in between.
"In these early weeks of the season, Jay Guy and I are still getting accustomed to each other, learning what works best and how to adjust based on what I like in the car. We're doing really well, but it's worth noting that we're still going to all of these tracks together as a team for the first time. And it won't be until later in the season where we get to apply things we've learned on our second trips to some of these tracks."