David Ragan will be a popular driver with the youngsters at Kansas Speedway Saturday night.
The race is Ragan’s first driving the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. But to the younger NASCAR fans, Ragan’s No. 55 will be the car carrying the paint scheme that features pop culture phenom SpongeBob SquarePants.
“We’re certainly going to stand out in Kansas,” laughed Ragan. “What a way to begin my time with Aaron’s and MWR. I was a little old to watch SpongeBob growing up but I have sure heard about it from a lot of kids lately. He has a lot of fans. I’d love to take him to victory lane Saturday night.”
Since its launch in July 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has been the most-watched animated program with kids 2 – 11 for more than 13 consecutive years, and over the past several years, it has averaged more than 100,000,000 total viewers every quarter across all Nickelodeon networks.
Ragan, who made his 300th Sprint Cup start last weekend at Talladega, would like nothing better than to convert a few of those young viewers to permanent NASCAR fans. That’s just one of the goals as he climbs into the car driven by Brian Vickers, Brett Moffitt and Michael Waltrip in 2015. Ragan is 20th in the Chase standings battling for one of the 16 spots in NASCAR’s playoffs.
"Our expectations are very high,” said Ragan. “At the end of the day, Michael Waltrip Racing has all the tools and resources that Joe Gibbs Racing has, that Hendrick Motorsports or Stewart-Haas Racing has. There's no reason for us not to be able to win a race and have a shot at making the Chase. Certainly, that is our goal going forward.
“We've got a lot of really good race tracks for me, a lot of good race tracks for the MWR bunch – they're working extremely hard trying to get those Toyotas as competitive and as fast as they can. I've been around the shop for just a few hours and I'm very impressed with what they have going on. Our expectations are really high. We want to make the Chase and we want to win some races and I know that that can be done."
Ragan also said he looks forward to winning a Sprint Cup Series race on Mother’s Day.
"My mom (Beverly Ragan) probably hasn't been thanked enough over the years. It's always about my dad or my uncle or my family members that have paved the way from a mechanical or financial standpoint. My mom -- even though she couldn't tell you the difference between a lugnut and a carburetor -- loves racing. She's a big racing fan and a big supporter. She is the one who kept me in line those days that I didn't want to go to school. She made me stick to what I needed to do as a young kid and continue to go racing at the same time.
“My mom is a great mom and a good wife to my dad. She's a good lady."