Speedfest brings NASCAR stars to Cordele - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Speedfest brings NASCAR stars to Cordele

CORDELE, GA (WALB) -

Motorsports fans can get their need for speed filled in Cordele this weekend, when the Watermelon Capital Speedway hosts the 2014 Zaxby's Speedfest.

Just weeks before the Daytona 500, the Speedfest always brings out a few NASCAR drivers.

Unadilla native David Ragan is a Speedfest regular.

He says it's always fun to come back home, and shake off the rust before the Sprint Cup season.

"It's good to knock the rust off. We've had a busy offseason, with a little racing, some other things going on with Front Row Motorsports, as well as some family time, some off time," Ragan says. "But it is good to get back in the rhythm of things, just to get back at the race track, get behind the wheel of the car, work with your spotter, work with your crew chief a little bit, and very much knock the rust off."

After finishing 28th in the Sprint Cup Standings in 2013 with a win at Talladega, Ragan says he's hoping for a much more even 2014.

"We've got to just continue to work on our race cars, try to be more competitive on a consistent basis," he says. "We seem to have a lot of good weeks, but we have a lot of bad weeks as well."

This year, Ragan's joined by Joe Nemechek and Jeff Burton.

The latter two will not be driving. Instead, they'll both watch their sons, John Hunter Nemechek and Harrison Burton, take the wheel.

Burton will be taking a step back next season, running a limited schedule. All that working up to becoming a NASCAR analyst with NBC in 2015.

He says short track events like the Speedfest keep auto racing alive.

"This is the heartbeat of racing. If we don't have healthy short tracks and healthy short track racing, our sport is in big trouble," Burton says. "We've got to get back to grassroots style of racing at the top level, because it is the best racing in the world."

He says the Sprint Cup could take a few things from the kind of events that happen all over the country on weekends.

"You come out to a short track race on a Friday or Saturday night, it's some of the best racing in the world," he says. "We need that all the way up at the Cup level."

The Speedfest continues practice runs on Saturday at noon. Qualifying begins at 4:15.

The green flag drops on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. There will be an autograph session at 12:30 Saturday.

Copyright 2014 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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