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David Ragan Moving to MWR’s No. 55 Car Full-Time Starting at Kansas

David Ragan Moving to MWR’s No. 55 Car Full-Time Starting at Kansas

by April 28, 2015 0 comments

Photo credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

CORNELIUS, N.C. — After serving as a substitute for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch for the last eight races of the 2015 season, David Ragan will move over to Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota full-time starting at the SpongeBob Squarepants 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Initially starting the season as the full-time driver for Front Row Motorsports’s No. 34 Ford, Ragan moved over to JGR’s No. 18 Toyota to substitute for the injured Busch starting with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the second race of the season.

Brian Vickers, the regular driver of the MWR No.55 machine, sat out the first two races of the 2015 season after recovering from heart surgery, returning to his seat for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Vickers raced at both Las Vegas and at Phoenix International Raceway before being sidelined by medical issues once again for the return of blood clots that took him out of action previously in 2010 and 2013.

Having been placed on blood thinning medication, Vickers is expected to be out of the car for a minimum of three months, however, it’s uncertain what his status beyond those three months is, prompting the need for a full-time replacement.

“Life has thrown a lot at MWR the first part of this racing season, but our team has stood tall and worked through it,” team owner Michael Waltrip said. “Our original plans for the No. 55 team have been challenged since December and we felt it was important for our employees and our sponsors to solidify the remainder of the 2015 season.

“The opportunity to bring David Ragan into the team is incredible for a number of reasons. He will bring experience, consistency and a lot of confidence based on how he has been running with our Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. He also puts the No. 55 team and Aaron’s right back into the Chase for the Sprint Cup contention, which is a very positive turn of events for that team.

“There is absolutely no question about Brian Vickers’ ability, but there remains a question of his availability. We are going to remain very close with Brian while he works on his plan to return. We have told him that MWR is here when he has a clear picture about what the future holds, but we don’t need to add any timeline pressures. He is working with a lot of medical advisors and once he has established his plan, we will sit down and discuss next steps.”

Serving as interim replacements for Vickers in the seven races he’s missed thus far this season were Brett Moffitt in six of those races and Waltrip himself at Daytona. Waltrip will return to the seat at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend before handing the ride over to Ragan.

Entering his final race with Joe Gibbs Racing of 2015 (and his 300th career Sprint Cup race) this weekend, Ragan enters the GEICO 500 sitting 19th in points with a best finish of fifth coming at Martinsville Speedway.

When speaking of the opportunity awaiting him at MWR, the 29-year-old out of Unadilla, Ga. said he’s seeking to bring several trophies back to the team’s shop as a response to all they’ve been through so far this season.

“The only way I can repay all the people I have to thank for making this happen is to go out and win races and get MWR, Aaron’s and Toyota in the Chase,” Ragan said. “It’s going to be awesome knowing when I climb in the No. 55 at Kansas that car will be mine the rest of the season.

“I look forward to working with Clint Bowyer, the crew and shop employees at MWR. It’s tough what’s happened to them this year but I hope I can come in and make 2015 something special.”

Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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