CHARLOTTE, N.C. – David Ragan, normally behind the wheel of his UPS sponsored Cup ride, switched it up this weekend under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway to highlight UPS’ favorite charity, the United Way.
With United Way’s motto ‘Live United’ on the hood, the young driver piloted his No. 6 Ford Fusion to a rare top-ten finish in the Bank of America 500, his second of the 2010 season.
“It was a great run,” Ragan said. “I think we may have even had a better car than 10th, but, all in all, it was a pretty good night.”
“It seems like a lot of things we needed to do right went how they were supposed to,” Ragan continued. “We’ve had some real good cars the last couple of weeks and it’s good for United Way and UPS to finish in the top 10.”
Ragan’s crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer, attributed the tenth place finish to a good car but also to his driver’s burgeoning confidence.
“I think the most important thing is giving David some confidence,” Blickensderfer said. “I’m not a miracle worker and I’m not doing anything that’s different than anybody else would do. I’m just a different guy and it might have lit a spark under David.”
Perhaps David had a bit more pep in his step knowing that one of the nation’s best known charitable brands, the United Way, was also featured prominently on his race car. UPS, Ragan’s primary sponsor, agreed to step aside for the United Way in honor of UPS being the first corporate donor to surpass one billion dollars in contributions to the charity.
“UPS is a major NASCAR sponsor and approached us about repainting the No. 6 with United Way’s logo and colors,” Joseph V. Haggerty, Chief Operating Officer of United Way Worldwide, said. “We were of course delighted to have the opportunity to work with UPS, Roush Fenway Racing and driver David Ragan to bring this all together.”
“In addition to the financial resources, UPS employees volunteered more than 1.2 million hours of service last year,” Haggerty continued. “United Way was thrilled with the opportunity to bring visibility and to thank UPS for all they do for the community every day.”
United Way and UPS celebrated all weekend long at the track, continuing to call attention to their core mission of giving, advocating and volunteering. Ragan’s top ten finish fire suit and helmet are currently being auctioned off to raise additional dollars for the United Way, capping off the weekend’s race celebrations.
“In addition to co-branded die cast cars, T-shirts, and lots of publicity, UPS sponsored a race-day volunteer activity, bringing in 50 UPS employees from all of the country to build literacy kits with United Way Worldwide and children from A Child’s Place,” Haggerty said. “It’s all part of United Way’s focus on improving education, income and health.”
For Ragan, this top ten finish rivaled his best finish at Charlotte in seven attempts. His previous top ten finish occurred in the fall race there in 2008.
With the great run still fresh in their minds, Ragan and his relatively new crew chief agreed on one thing. Their relationship is gelling and they are getting better and better each and every week.
“Yeah, we’re getting better and that’s the main thing,” Blickensderfer said. “You have to be able to get better every single week and to prove that when you run 15th, that wasn’t good enough and you can run 10th.”
Perhaps Ragan summed it up best. “Hopefully this is some good momentum we can carry with us into next week,” the young driver said.
Ragan will return to his UPS branded No. 6 next week when the Cup Series motors into Martinsville. The Tums Fast Relief 500 will run on Sunday, October 24th at 1:00 PM EDT on ESPN.
Mary Jo Buchana, bigleadsports