Like baseball, the NASCAR season is just starting up and began this past Sunday with the great american race, the Daytona 500. Longtime Atlanta Braves fan and NASCAR driver David Ragan sat down with us to talk a little baseball.
TomahawkTake: Being originally from Georgia, were you born into a Braves family or when did you first become a Braves fan?
David Ragan: My Grandad was a big Braves fan. So I can remember watching games with him. We would go to a few Braves games a year in Atlanta and the Macon Braves were still playing when I was a kid as well.
TT: You still lived in Georgia when the Braves won their only championship in 1995, can you say a few words about the year they won…what you were doing when they won, what Atlanta was like, etc
DR: I remember David Justice hitting the solo homerun in the game… We were in Atlanta the following couple of days, and I remember begging my dad to stop by then Fulton County Stadium and buy some Championship gear….
TT: What is your fondest memory from being a Braves fan?
DR: My first trip to Turner Field was pretty cool, and certainly the 95 Championship…. We went to one of the games in 98 when the Turner field was pretty new, and it was a cool experience….
TT: Who is your all-time favorite Atlanta Braves player?
DR: Everyone says Chipper (Jones) but I was a big Javy Lopez Fan. I played Catcher and he was a good player for a number of years… So I always liked him, I have done a few events the last few years around Atlanta and got to meet him a few times and he is a great guy. Honorable Mention is John Rocker… No one was more dominant than he was when he had is head on straight
TT: Do you ever talk baseball in the NASCAR garage with other drivers? And if so, what drivers and what are the conversations like?
DR: Sometimes… Kenny Wallace is a big Cardinals fan, and we go back and forth sometimes…. Kurt Busch has gone to all the Major League parks… I went with him to a Giants game a few years back, and he knows his baseball. You will always see some of the NASCAR people at the baseball games if they are close to the Racetracks…
TT: Now, after the 2012 season, the Braves acquired B.J. Upton, Justin Upton and Jordan Walden, but lost Martin Pardo and prospects, how would you grade the offseason?
DR: I think we stayed about even. A lot depends on if these guys stay healthy…. I hated to see Martin leave…. But maybe the Upton’s will bring in a little energy to the team….
TT: The franchise player for over two decades, Chipper Jones, has retired… Who will turn into the new face of the organization?
DR: I think Jason Heyward or Brain McCann can be the leader… Jason is young and a true Brave just like Chipper, so maybe he can get his swing together and have some good years….
TT: In the 2013 season, who do you feel will be the teams Ace pitcher, Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson or Mike Minor?
DR: I would like to see Tim Hudson be the leader. He has the experience, and talent… But he is also getting old… So we will see.
TT: Will Dan Uggla and/or Brian McCann get back into All-Star form or will they keep showing signs of aging?
DR: I think they will. I hope the push each other and make each other better….
TT: Where do you think the Braves will finish in the NL East and who will be their toughest competition in their division (Nationals, Phillies, Mets)?
DR: The Nationals will be the competition… I have a feeling they will finish 2nd…
TT: What is one thing from the Braves you most looking forward to watching?
DR: Seeing if they can beat the Nationals during the regular season, and praying their pitching stays healthy….