One way to gauge the success of a driver is in his number of top-10 finishes. By that measure, David Ragan was not a good value with only one at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Ragan finished sixth after starting 12th on a track renowned for dark horses.
Another measure for mid-pack teams is the number of times they finished in the top 20 – or roughly the front half of the field. Ragan was better in that regard with 14 top-20s (38.9%). That made him a decent value much of the time, but that was limited by the fact that he was never able to string three consecutive top-20s together.
Finally, a driver can also be judged by the number of times he beats his ranking. We currently have Ragan seeded 25th in the 2019 rundown and that was about where he landed most weeks during 2018. He finished 25th or better 26 times (72.2%). In salary cap games, that meant he was often one of the better low-cost options – allowing players to concentrate on the marquee (and expensive) drivers at the top.
Ragan stayed in the hunt several times in 2018. He completed all of the laps at Pocono Raceway in both races as well as at Talladega, the short tracks of Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, the 1.5-milers of Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
On the one hand, that is not a clear enough pattern to allow players to choose where to start Ragan pre-weekend. On the other, it should put him on the radar so that he gets watched each weekend for the utility slot on the roster.
Ragan’s sixth-place finish at Talladega was no fluke. Both he and Front Row Motorsports are incredibly strong in the draft and unless the new rules package shuffles the deck considerably, Ragan, Michael McDowell, and Matt Tifft should each be considered on the big tracks.
Three Best Tracks
Talladega (19.0 in 24 attempts)
Daytona (20.2 in 24)
Auto Club (20.9 in 16)
Three Worst Tracks
Sonoma (30.0 in 12)
Homestead (27.5 in 13)
Phoenix (27.3 in 24)
Victories: None (Best finish = 2nd – Daytona 500)
Top-fives: 0 (.000)
Top-10s: 1 (.028)
Top-15s: 4 (.111)
Finishes at or above their rank? = 26 (72.2%)