After finishing 13th in points and narrowly missing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2008, David Ragan, driver of the #6 Roush Fenway Ford, expected to win races and contend for the Chase this season.

Instead, he has two top tens in 22 races and is 30th in the Cup standings heading into Michigan, where he finished 15th in June, his fourth-best finish this season.

He did pick up his first Nationwide victory at Talladega in April, but as Ragan, 23, told Sporting News, he's still looking for answers.

"This 2009 season hasn't been what we expected," he said. "We expected to have won a race and get a lot of top fives and top tens already, but we've had some bad luck, and we just haven't been as fast as we needed to be to run well. The facts are pretty clear that we've got to keep working hard. We've got all the tools necessary in order to run good. This is the same team that contended for wins last year.

"We're just missing something small, but I feel like we've had some races of excellence. We had races where we were a threat to win -- and fast -- just not enough of them. At Texas we were running fourth, and we blew up. At Vegas we blew up. At Sonoma we were running seventh and got wrecked, and we got caught in a big wreck at New Hampshire that wasn't of our making. We just haven't had the lucky breaks fall our way, but you can't always count on those lucky breaks to be good. You've got to make good things happen.

"We're still positive and optimistic. We're always trying to develop our cars into something that's lighter and faster and better, but sometimes we may do things that aren't as good, and so it takes a little while to go and test and come up with new ideas. With (NASCAR's) testing ban this year, it's a little harder to
fine-tune the problems.

"I'm still very confident. We were able to win a race in the Nationwide Series earlier this year. We've had some strong runs, and I know that we can go out and win races if we do the right things on our team. It's just a matter of getting everyone rolling together and having the racing luck swing our way."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News