David Ragan enjoys a ‘coattail’ effect from Michael McDowell

SPARTA, KY - JULY 07: Michael McDowell, driver of the #95 WRL General Contractors Chevrolet, talks with David Ragan, driver of the #38 Brandeis/Komatsu Ford, during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2017 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell isn’t a road-course ringer, but he would be if he weren’t a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver for Front Row Motorsports.

Before he came to stock car racing, McDowell was an instructor at the Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Arizona. David Ragan clearly feels a coattail effect from having McDowell as a teammate at Front Row as he readies for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (3 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“Absolutely,” Ragan said. “Over the years, I have had great teammates that run good out here. Having a teammate like Michael as we are coming to a track where he has raced on the carousel before, so he kind of knows where the passing zone is, where you can be aggressive and where you need to be conservative at.

“He gives you a few of those tips. Obviously, he’s racing against us, so he isn’t going to tell us everything. It’s good to have a teammate like that to help me as a driver, but to also help the company to work on adjustments and gear ratios and what works good for him, I can usually adapt and make it work for me too.”

McDowell qualified 13th for Sunday’s race, missing the second round by .099 seconds. Ragan wasn’t far behind. He’ll start 18th.

Greg Engle