David Ragan's off-season hunt for a new race seat for 2012 is finally over, after he landed a deal with Front Row Motorsports to drive their #34 car in the 2012 Sprint Cup season.
"Front Row has made great progress in the last few years, and I look forward to helping them advance to the next level," said Ragan. "I think the team appreciates what I can bring to the table, and I think it's a good opportunity for both of us."
The former driver of the #34, David Gilliland, will switch to the team's other car, the #38, which was driven in 2011 by Travis Kvapil. The former Truck Series champion now finds himself out of a Cup ride for the new season.
"I'm excited to be back for a third year and to have David as a teammate," said Gilliland. "It's good to be back in the #38 car, too. It was my dad's number, and I've also had some pretty good days at the race track."
Ragan was let go by the Roush Fenway Racing team at the end of last season after key financial backer UPS decided to end its primary sponsorship of the #6 car. Since then, Ragan has been seeking a new ride elsewhere in the NASCAR paddock and has been linked by reports to Cup rides eventually taken by AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola. At one point he even looked in contention for a Nationwide series ride at JR Motorsports alongside Danica Patrick, eventually taken instead by Cole Whitt.
"I'm happy [as] I really wanted to stay in the Cup Series," said Ragan. "I didn't want to put myself in the position where I had to run a limited schedule or a start-and-park car. That's when I looked at some Nationwide opportunities and I even looked at some Truck opportunities ... But when I talked to Jerry and I met Bob Jenkins, I saw the dedication that those guys had."
Front Row Motorsports, owned by restaurateur Bob Jenkins and managed by Jerry Freeze, has been in full-time Cup competition since 2009. Last year, both of its cars finished in the all-important top 35 in owners points which guarantees entry into the weekend's races.
"We took some pretty big steps in our race program last year and adding David Ragan is another giant step in the right direction," said Jenkins. "I like the upgrades we're making and the improvements we're seeing, and I am confident we will be able to compete with [the big teams] on a consistent basis in the not-too-distant future."
Edwards drops out of Nationwide races
Carl Edwards has said that he has no plans to run races in the Nationwide Series in 2012 after all.
For the last seven years up to 2011, Edwards had run every Nationwide race possible alongside his Cup events, but announced toward the end of last season that he would be scaling back on his Nationwide appearances in future. Now, he's confirmed that he has no current plans to race any Nationwide races at all in the upcoming season.