David Ragan will fill in at Atlanta and beyond for Kyle Busch in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Ragan emerged as a candidate for the car on Tuesday. According to the team’s release, Ragan “will pilot the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota for at least the next several weeks.” No timetable on Busch’s recovery was given. Busch was transported back to North Carolina on Tuesday after suffering a compound fracture in his lower right leg and a broken left foot in a crash on Saturday at Daytona.
“We appreciate being able to work with Front Row Motorsports and CSX for David’s (Ragan) availability,” Joe Gibbs said in the statement. “We are fortunate to be able to have someone of David’s caliber behind the wheel while Kyle recovers. Erik is a big part of our future at JGR and we will be increasing his schedule in the XFINITY Series beginning this weekend in Atlanta and seeking the earliest opportunity to provide him Cup experience. We appreciate all the support we have received from the NASCAR community including our fans and we look forward to getting Kyle back in the car as soon as possible.”
Erik is Erik Jones, who will drive the No. 54 Xfinity Series car for Busch at Atlanta.
Ragan has been with Front Row Motorsports in the Cup Series since the beginning of the 2012 season. His temporary move to Joe Gibbs Racing gives the team three former Roush Fenway Racing drivers in Ragan, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.
FRM utlizes Fords in the Cup Series but the manufacturer change proved to ultimately not be an obstacle. His No. 34 car had no owner’s points in 2015 after Cole Whitt’s No. 35 had the points transferred to it. Whitt brought a sponsor to Front Row. Had Ragan tried to qualify for Atlanta with FRM, he would have had to make the race on qualifying speed.
The move gives Ragan a chance to compete in top-tier equipment once again. Front Row is the No. 4 Ford team in the Cup Series behind Team Penske, Roush Fenway and Richard Petty Motorsports.
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