By admin | May 14, 2008
By Richard Allen
When asked to name the top drivers in the Ford stable even casual fans can come up with the names Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. However, two other Ford chauffeurs are giving every indication that they are poised to not only move into the elite among their manufacturer’s rankings but into the elite of the overall rankings as well.
David Ragan and Travis Kvapil have been providing solid finishes of late. Particularly in Talladega and Darlington, the two mixed it up all race long with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and the Busch brothers. Normally, it is the three previously mentioned drivers who take on that role for the Blue Oval brand.
Last year at this time Ragan did not look comfortable in a Sprint Cup car. He had started off well enough with a 5th place run in the season opening Daytona 500. Unfortunately, after that race his season began a downward spiral which had placed him in 26th position of the overall standings after the 2007 Darlington race.
After a 4th place in Talladega and a 5th place in Darlington, Ragan now finds himself in 12th place of the Sprint Cup standings. As of now, he finds himself in the final transfer spot for the Chase for the Championship. That is quite an improvement from a year ago.
Add to his Cup series success that Ragan has emerged as a serious contender on the Nationwide Series as well. In that series he has two Top 5s and six Top 10 finishes.
Travis Kvapil’s story is even more remarkable than Ragan’s. Last year at this time he was campaigning full time on the Craftsman Truck Series. Not only has he had to overcome the obstacle of being away from Cup racing during the critical first year of the Car of Tomorrow program, he and his Yates Racing team have essentially had to go through the year without sponsorship.
Although Kvapil is back in 18th spot in the Sprint Cup Series standings he has gained considerable momentum over the past three weeks. A 6th place finish in Talladega combined with an 8th in Darlington has shown that the #28 team is capable of competing with the more heavily financed teams.
Several weeks ago I posted an article in which I pointed out the need for Ford to add depth to its Sprint Cup Series program if they were to remain a viable force in the sport. With the recent performances of David Ragan and Travis Kvapil it appears that the car maker is well on its way to adding that depth.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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