BK Racing driver lineup set with David Ragan, Matt DiBenedetto
BK Racing’s 2016 driver lineup for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is set, with veteran David Ragan joining the organization as driver of the No. 23 Toyota and Matt DiBenedetto returning to pilot the No. 83 Toyota.
Ragan joins BK Racing after a tumultuous 2015 season in which he drove for Front Row Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing before finishing out the year with now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing. He owns two career Sprint Cup wins, 15 top-five and 36 top-10 finishes in 326 starts, with one top five and one top 10 last year.
Ragan, who turned 30 last Christmas Eve, admitted that he wasn’t sure after last season if he would be able to find a Sprint Cup ride for the 2016 season. He did so only after months of working the phones himself, drawing on contacts with owners, sponsors and friends made through years of racing before he finally landed the deal with BK Racing.
"It’s a big relief to have the opportunity to go race full time in the Sprint Cup series," Ragan told the FOX news television affiliate in Atlanta.
Ragan has experience running at the Cup level with both bigger teams and smaller ones. He began his career with Roush Fenway Racing and won at Daytona in July of 2011 while with RFR. He won at Talladega for Front Row Motorsports, a much smaller organization, in 2013.
Last year he made nine starts for Joe Gibbs Racing while subbing for the injured Kyle Busch after running a Front Row car in the season-opening Daytona 500. He ran the final 26 races of the season for Michael Waltrip Racing, which went out of business at season’s end. He finished 27th in the points standings.
"The pressure’s there, but it’s a little different," said Ragan of running for different-sized teams. "You sometimes have more fun [with a smaller team]. You get to work with a closer knit group of employees that are real happy to be here."
DiBenedetto will return to pilot the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota for a second season after making 33 starts and finishing 35th in the points in 2015. Veteran crew chief Gene Nead will return atop the pit box, according to a team press release. Part-owner Ron Devine added in the release that he is pleased to have DiBenedetto and Nead back for another season.
"Last year I learned a lot from everyone here at BK Racing and I’m looking forward to having a full notebook heading into the season," DiBenedetto said. "Ron, Gene and the team have put in a lot of work over the offseason and we are all looking forward to Daytona."
"We’re excited to have Matt back with us for 2016," said Devine. "We were very pleased with the progress he made throughout his rookie season and we look forward to continuing down that path."
Among the sponsors that will be featured on DiBenedetto’s car this season are Dustless Blasting and Cosmo Motors, both of which worked with the No. 83 team last season as well.