Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: So Much for Emotion in the New NASCAR

Last year Brian France told everyone that he wanted to see more emotion out of the drivers. The fans wanted to see that drivers were human and actually got excited about their sport. The sanitized, corporate pitch men were supposed to be replaced by passionate racers who were out there for the love of the sport and felt that losing was unacceptable. Apparently David Ragan didn’t get the memo.

Saturday’s (April 25) Aaron’s 312 at Talladega was the first victory for Ragan in any of the top-three series of NASCAR. Ragan has been competing at the top tiers of NASCAR for six years, having debuted in 2004 in the Truck Series. He ran 195 races in the Truck, Nationwide and Cup series before he ever made it to victory lane. It would seem likely that after waiting for such a long time and making so many starts, he’d have been euphoric when his ultimate goal was finally achieved.

However, the scene in the winner’s circle at Talladega was anything but that. Ragan’s crew was obviously ecstatic, showering him with the traditional Gatorade bath. However, Ragan was ridiculously subdued. He barely shook his bottle enough to get all the liquid out and then quickly retreated to the ground and faced the TV cameras for his first interview as a Nationwide winner.

See also
Happy Hour: Why We Don’t See as Much NASCAR Emotion as We’d Like

One would expect a race winner at your local short track to be giddy over the fact that he triumphed over the competition and was first to the checkered flag. When it takes place at the upper echelon of the sport, it would seem the driver should be hardly able to control themselves after trying for so long to achieve success. Not so; Ragan sounded like he was being interviewed after scoring a good deal on a gas grill at Wal-Mart, barely even cracking a smile during the entire interview.

He spewed the typical driver speak, thanking all of his sponsors and mentioning that it was probably pretty exciting for his crew who had been with him for a long time and had never been to victory lane before. And that was about it. There were no high fives, there was no stage dive into the waiting arms of his crew, there wasn’t even a big “HELL YEAH!!!” It honestly looked like Ragan could not have cared less about what he’d just accomplished.

Now fellow Frontstretcher Jeff Meyer made the observation that he might just be saving the big celebration for when he finally conquers the field in a Cup race. Let’s hope that’s the case. It would be very sad to think that there are millions of racers throughout the U.S. who would give anything to make it to that place just once in their career while Ragan handles it like he’d rather be having a root canal. Thank goodness Brad Keselowski showed us how excited you should be after taking the checkered flag in a big race with his effervescent celebration and interviews after winning on Sunday.

It’s OK to let your emotions out David. Brian France says so.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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