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Ragan finds a Front Row seat at last

16 January 2012

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.

"The way we're approaching this season is, I'm not committing to any races right now," said last year's Sprint Cup runner-up to champion Tony Stewart. "As the season goes, if I decide I'm just a nervous ball of energy on Saturdays and I can't function without going and racing - because that might be the case - then we'll work to try to go [Nationwide] racing.

"I'm hoping this lets me focus more on the Cup car," admitted Edwards. "Lets me be a better Cup racer by maybe having more time during the race weekend to maybe hone the set-ups in ... I don't know how it will actually affect our performance but I do know my calendar is a lot more open and I'm able to breathe a little more."

Edwards admitted that he wasn't sure if opting out Nationwide would help his Cup performances or not. "I've made some big mistakes on Saturday that helped me not to make them on Sunday," he said. "I learned so many things in that Nationwide car that it's a real toss up whether or not it'll help the performance on Sunday."

Brad Keselowski to make Truck appearances

Brad Keselowski has confirmed that he'll be making a number of starts in the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

The team that he co-owns, Brad Keselowski Racing, will be fielding Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman during the year, and Keselowski said that he felt it was important to help out his driver the best way he could - on the track.

"I'm roughly planning to do six races, but I'd prefer not to drive it, to be quite honest," he said. ""But for Parker's sake, I think it's important to get a good evaluation because this is a make or break year for Parker. We need a good evaluation of where our equipment's at throughout different periods of the year so we can understand whether or not he's making the most of our opportunity."

Keselowski has hired veteran crew chief Doug Randolph to head Kligerman's program, after Randolph was left without a job following the closure of Rusty Wallace Racing's Nationwide Series program.

Belkin backs McMurray

California-bases technology provider Belkin has signed on as a secondary sponsor to the #1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing car driven by Jamie McMurray in 2012, the first time the company has been involved in motor sport.

Making the announcement during the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Belkin also unveiled the one-off livery the car would use during the April 1 race at Martinsville, when Belkin would be the primary sponsor.

"We are excited to join Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Jamie McMurray as a sponsor for the upcoming 2012 NASCAR season", said Chet Pipkin, the CEO and founder of Belkin. "With tens of millions of fans and legions of devotees and viewers, NASCAR is a sport of the people, so it seems like a natural fit for a company that prides itself on taking inspiration from real people and creating products that enhance the role of technology in people's lives."


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