The driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine joins the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup field at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday to test new rules designed to create less downforce and help produce more side-by-side competition. After an off day on Thursday, preparations for Saturday night’s race at the Sparta, Ky. track begin on Friday.
“I think this is going to be as important of a test as we have ever had,” said Ragan who finished 12th in the early morning hours Monday at Daytona.
“I applaud NASCAR for working on our cars so that we can put on the best show we can for our fans. I was amazed when I got out of my car at almost 3 a.m. Monday morning and saw how many of our fans were still at Daytona cheering and yelling. I think we put on a great show now, but with some minor rules tweaks we bring even more passing into the races.”
Away from the track, two charities most dear to the 29-year-old Georgian will host special events this week.
He and wife Jacquelyn are the honorary chairman for the LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation's second Annual Race for Research held Monday through Wednesday this week.
The three-day road rally travels from Darlington to Charlotte and includes teams who spend three days in decaled passenger cars navigating through NASCAR country stopping along the way at designated "pit stops," answering scavenger hunt questions, meeting NASCAR legends and even taking laps on famous speedways. Ragan will join the group for dinner on Tuesday before his Kentucky trip.
While in Kentucky, Ragan will use Thursday’s off day to visit the Shriner’s Hospital in Cincinnati. Since naming the Shriners Hospitals for Children his official charity of choice in 2008, he has used his popularity to increase awareness and raise funds for the organization.
On Saturday he’ll host the family of a 13-year-old boy who suffered serious burns as an infant that require him to make regular visit to the Shriner’s hospital until he is 21 years old. Ragan will also host families of Shriner’s patients at Chicago and Charlotte this season.
“I’ve been awfully lucky in life in so many ways. Between my family and my career I feel very fortunate. As you grow older and start looking around, you learn that health isn’t something we can take for granted and there are a lot of people in some very tough health battles. The LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation is making great progress on something that has touched my family,” said Ragan.“As a Shriner, I’ve seen the work their hospitals do to aid these incredibly brave kids who are just as tough as any race car drivers. I’m honored to do anything I can for them and their families.”