David Ragan figures it's time to start making himself noticed.
Not necessarily by race fans. The first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career, two weeks ago at Daytona, did that for him.
No, he's thinking about on the racetrack.
He's first in line for a wild-card position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But if he wants to stay there for eight more weeks (or move up, preferably) until the Chase begins on Sept. 18, he believes he must become a different race car driver.
He can't go unnoticed on the track.
"Now is the time to fight," he told reporters in a conference call Tuesday. "We've got to go out and fight every lap. We can't give away any positions. We've got to be really aggressive."
Ragan knows the cost of not being aggressive.
In 2008, he had his best season. But he fell one spot shy of the Chase, and he remembers giving himself too much slack as the "regular-season" races dwindled.
At one particular race that year, Richmond, he thought he was out of the picture entirely, only to realize later he could have given himself a chance if he and his crew had been more aggressive for more of the race.
"We certainly didn't give up at all. We continued to work hard," Ragan said. "But we didn't fight for that extra spot here, that extra six inches on pit road. That's the way we look at it now. It's going to be a tough road in front of us.
"We've got to fight and fight and fight. That's what I learned a few years ago."
But Ragan has to get the attention of more than the other drivers.
He hopes UPS is watching, too.
The delivery company is the primary sponsor on Ragan's No. 6 Ford.
But the company and car owner Roush Fenway Racing have not re-upped for next year, and there's some thought that the sponsor wants to be on another Roush Fenway car -- maybe Carl Edwards? (Which is understandable. UPS, which got used to big publicity with Dale Jarrett, had not gotten to Victory Lane with Ragan until two weeks ago).
"UPS was thrilled. We were thrilled," Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark told SceneDaily.com's Bob Pockrass. "David deserves that more than anyone I can imagine."
Ragan, 25, is still a young driver. But he hopped into the No. 6 five years ago saddled with expectations because Roush Fenway put him in the seat when he hadn't had a full-time Nationwide or Truck season under him.
So even if he hasn't produced at the level that would make him a household name, Ragan said he gets full support from Jack Roush.
"There for a while, I did tear a lot of stuff up, made some bad decisions," Ragan said. "The last couple years, we really weren't fast enough to tear anything up. We were just slow. We didn't compete as well as we should have."
Ragan vows to compete.
"There's a lot of situations that, you know, I look at myself as a pretty laid-back, respectful driver," he said. "If someone gives me a spot and they're faster, I may give a spot back later in return in the race. I think some instances like that have to go away. You go to a racetrack and someone is catching you, typically you let them by if it's early in the race. I don't think we can afford to do that anymore."
That's going to be noticed.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407