Ragan raced in sixth with just 35 laps remaining at Sonoma (Cal.) Raceway in June before an accident on a restart ruined his bid for victory. Watkins Glen and Sonoma Raceway are the only road courses on the 2015 schedule, but Ragan insists each is very different.
ROAD COURSE COMPARISON: “I think Watkins Glen presents a certain set of challenges compared to Sonoma. Sonoma is a slower pace and a little bit more technical. Watkins Glen is super-fast then you brake really hard before you go super-fast and brake really hard again. That means you have to take care of your brakes. You also have to make sure you get through the Esses and down the long back straightaway before you get to the bus stop. That’s the most critical part of the lap. You can pass getting into the bus stop because you have to use a lot of brake. Guys that may stumble or have an issue coming out of the Esses will pay for it going down that long back straightaway. That’s what we will work on Friday.
“Sonoma is a good indicator of how everyone will run at Watkins Glen. The race cars are kind of similar. The teams put a lot of effort behind their road course programs these days. Years ago, teams could go and test at places like Road Atlanta, VIR and Kershaw to try to improve on their road course cars. Without testing, you only have Sonoma now and you just try to improve from an engineering standpoint at the race shop. In my opinion the cars fast at Sonoma will also be at Watkins Glen.”
WATKINS GLEN EXPECTATIONS: “We had a great weekend at Sonoma. Our Aaron’s Dream Machine was fast. We qualified well, our strategy was great but we just didn't make it to the end. Obviously, Watkins Glen is another road course so we have high expectations. I think it is important that we qualify well, keep our Toyota out of trouble and if we can just make it to those final few laps it will be fun.”
WATKINS GLEN MEMORY: “One of my memories is the hard wreck in 2011 I had at the bottom of the Esses with myself, Boris Said and David Reutimann. We were racing for 14th, 15th and 16th. Boris hooked me in the right rear quarter panel and sent me head on into the guardrail. I came back across the track then caught Reutimann. It turned into a heck of a wreck with David flipping. Weird thing is that was MWR’s Aaron’s Dream Machine he was driving that day. Fortunately, he was OK. That memory always stands out and makes the highlight reel every year.”