David Vs. Goliath - The Interesting Stories Of The Same Name NASCAR Underdogs In The 2000s

written by AJ Appeal


The pre-season fanfare for American baseball includes reports on the best and worst prospects heading into Spring Training each year. We are told by tenured sports writers why they feel players will lead the league in strikeouts or home runs, and quite often they are correct in their predictions. Imagine that..in a sport with so many probabilities such as baseball, we almost instantly know who the next rising star is and what they're going to be capable of before their career even begins.


It isn't uncommon for predictions of a similar nature to occur in the world of stock car racing. One of the most memorable came in the 2000's when NASCAR legend Mark Martin told the world about young Joey Logano. So much has been made about Logano's earned nickname, 'Sliced Bread', which he was called as a teenager. We watched as Joey made his way through the ranks and it turned out that Martin was correct. Logano demanded the media's attention and won race after race in the then NASCAR Nationwide (Xfinity) Series driving the Gamestop Toyota. His rookie season in Cup he won and became the youngest ever winner in NASCAR's premiere series. As exciting as it was to watch Joey in that era, we all felt like we knew what to expect because of Mark Martin and the media telling us he was the next best thing.


The 1990s and 2000s are referred to as NASCAR's Golden Era for several reasons. One of them being an increase in driver personality and average talent which made on-track competition more fierce than ever. As the turn of the century happened we were introduced to dozens of young or previously successful racers who were preparing for their Cup Series careers. Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer. Countless other men and women strived for greatness.


One of the most interesting things that happened was a wave of men named David who felt they had what it took to dethrone the reigning champion. Champions in this era were true juggernauts such as the Labontes, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart...you could call them Goliaths. Every one of those champs became future hall of fame recipients.


Many of the Davids that entered the top echelon had a storied career in their past, it only seemed right that they could grow from bench warmer to starting all-star. Some of them earned wonderous accolades while others struggled more than they had hoped. Here are the interesting stories of the same-name underdogs.


 


Photo Source: ISC Archives/NASCAR

David Green

You probably heard of the Alabama Gang if you're reading content on Racing Refresh. It's possible, perhaps, that you are less familiar with the 'Owensboro Boys'.


Most popular from the Owensboro region were the Waltrip brothers Darrell and Michael, but another set of brothers who shared a name with the 'Go!' flag were also born there.


The oldest of the Green brothers was David, born in 1958. His brothers Jeff and Mark Green both had their own racing careers that followed in his path. David's Busch Grand National career started in 1989 at Hickory Speedway. He became a mainstay in the series and won his first national stock car event in 1991 at Lanier. In 1994 he won the Busch Grand National championship at the age of 36. His 404 races ran from 1989-2013 placed him at 9th all-time in the middle-tiered championship. He only won 9 times, one to match each day that Ferris Bueller called in sick. Despite not having more checkered flags and trophies, he earned a Top 10 finish 47% of the time! Add 22 poles to that, and his legacy is etched pretty well into the record books.


In 1997, Green was given the opportunity to drive most of the season and compete in his Cup Series debut. His first start in the Winston Cup (Premiere) Series was at the Goodwrench Service 400 at Rockingham. He started 14th and finished 38th that day. In total, he raced 78 times between 1997 and 2004. His final Cup appearance was at the 2004 Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond. He earned only one Top 15 finish in his cup career, a 12th place at Phoenix in 1999. With an average finish of 30.0, his Cup career never compared to his competitive results below. After the 2004 season he focused on Busch Series racing and added a handful of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races to his calendar.


His final Top 5 and Top 10 were sudden. It came in a truck event at Kentucky in 2007. He would never break the top ten again in any national racing series.


He retired from driving professionally in 2013 and has mostly been out of the spotlight ever since. In the 2010s he began work officially for NASCAR as an official. He currently holds the title of safety manager and can be seen at the track working during inspections or other events through the weekend.


 

David Starr

One of the words previously mentioned for David Green was 'mainstay.' NASCAR racer David Starr has earned a similar title for sure. While he is certainly experienced in all three of the top national touring divisions, his time in NASCAR Xfinity and Truck racing has given him a nearly ageless persona.

Photo: NASCAR

Starr is mostly remembered for being a tough competitor in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in the early 2000's. From the years of 1998 to 2013 he earned 4 wins and 48 top 5's, most of which behind the wheel of the #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet Silverado.


With a diverse success at different types of tracks he was a pre-season contender for the annual truck championship most years from 2002 to 2006. He slowly graduated himself to the Nationwide Series (Xfinity), but continued to race in both for many years.


In 2011, at the age of 43, Starr made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway. He matched the previous David, and finished 38th place in his premiere. Between 2011 and 2021 Starr raced a total of 17 times for several different teams and was not fortunate enough to earn a lead lap finish, pole, or top 10.


With lackluster results at the top, he continued to focus on Xfinity Racing. Some of his fans missed him being a more common threat below in the trucks, but his final full-time campaign was in 2011. While his energy was aimed at the Xfinity Series, only 3 Top 10 finishes were earned in 248 career starts.


What's to blame for David Starr's onset fame and success in trucks in the early 2000s turned into meme and lapped traffic in the 2020s? He has stayed healthy as he reached his mid 50's and maintained a full time career behind the wheel when other drivers fail to get a job with teams big or small. Perhaps he simply enjoys the adrenaline that comes with driving a car 200mph, but his best days statistically are certainly behind.


 

David Ragan

Photo: NASCAR Media / Getty

Second generation racer David Ragan entered the sport of NASCAR with big shoes to fill. His father, Ken Ragan out of Unadilla, Georgia was never considered one of the most successful on the track, but he was a driver that was respected in the south.


Ken made 50 career starts from 1983 to 1990. David, like so many other drivers dreamt of earning more statistically than his father was able to achieve.


Ragan raced in various resume-building series, he first earned the attention of NASCAR Hall of Fame car owner Jack Roush as a participant of the prestigious 'Gong Show' and in 2004 he was competing in the Arca Re/Max, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, and NASCAR Busch Grand National Series'...at the age of 18 years old!


Like so many others who were awarded contracts with Roush, he stood in line for the right opportunity. It was Mark Martin's retirement tour in 2005. He and Rusty Wallace celebrated their careers together. At each race the tracks or media would give the two legends gifts such as rocking chairs or enormous trophies. Poppycock celebrations would sometimes distract from the fact that these men were intending fully on truly competing for their final championship season's title.


David Ragan was selected to replace Mark Martin. In 2006, however, sponsor AAA and Roush convinced Martin to stay on board for one more full season. At the end of the year, headlines surfaced that Martin was continuing to race yet again, this time part-time with new teams. Ragan finally had his chance to compete regularly.


It is nearly impossible for a person to replace a legend of their industry. Ragan strapped his racing shoes on with the pressure of his father's reputation, being charged with the replacement of legend Mark Martin, and let's not forget the pressure of driving for Jack Roush in his best years.


While Roush Racing was known for their speed on the 1.5-mile ovals far more than other tracks in that time, Ragan raced with legends like Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon and competed strong at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega. In 2009 he won a race at Bristol in the Nationwide Series, but a more expected feat happened that same year when he claimed the Nationwide Talladega victory.


He led laps and finished high at plate tracks often, but he had to wait until 2011 to finally earn victory in NASCAR's Cup Series. That year, still driving for Jack Roush, David won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International. It wasn't enough to continue on further with the team. He signed a deal to race with Bob Jenkins' Front Row Motorsports in 2012. In 2013, he and teammate David Gilliland (yes...he will be mentioned soon) finished 1-2 at Talladega. Ragan had won for the second time in NASCAR Cup Series.