NASCAR's game of musical chairs lasted long enough for David Ragan to find a ride.
Ragan, the former Roush Fenway Racing driver who apparently was a second-choice candidate for many open seats in the offseason, found a happy ending to the 2011-12 offseason on Monday when Front Row Motorsports announced it has chosen him to drive the team's No. 34 car.
David Gilliland will team with Ragan, which means Travis Kvapil is the odd man out. Sponsorship was not announced for either car.
"Front Row has made great progress in the last few years, and I look forward to helping them advance to the next level," Ragan said. "I think the team appreciates what I can bring to the table, and I think it's a good opportunity for both of us."
When last season ended, sponsorship had not been found for Ragan's No. 6 car at Roush Fenway. He was then released to look for other opportunities (the team was effectively shut down), and it seemed there were several rides which might be a good fit.
But one by one, various race teams passed on hiring Ragan.
He was an early favorite for the Penske Racing No. 22 ride when Kurt Busch parted ways with the team, but AJ Allmendinger landed there instead.
Some connected his name with Phoenix Racing, but Busch ended up taking the No. 51 ride. Then Ragan became the likely driver of Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 car, but that job went to Aric Almirola.
Almirola's open seat at JR Motorsports created another potential opportunity for Ragan, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his team chose youngster Cole Whitt instead.
Ragan, though, isn't exactly an old man himself. He's seven months younger than Kyle Busch and has plenty of years ahead of him, but his lack of success at Roush Fenway damaged the perception that he's an up-and-comer.
The Georgia native has made 182 Sprint Cup Series starts with one win (at the July Daytona race last season) and an average finish of 21st. He placed 23rd in the Cup standings last season.
Roush, though, is known as an organization that can be difficult for some drivers to navigate. Jamie McMurray, for example, was mediocre at Roush but proved to be a winning driver when he joined Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
Now, it's Ragan's turn to see if he can prove himself with another team.
At Front Row, though, it will be extremely difficult to find Victory Lane or run up front. What Ragan needs to do in the No. 34 car is beat expectations by performing better than what people think the team is capable of.
In that case, Ragan might get a shot at another top-tier ride should one become available. He has no negative history, doesn't feud with other drivers or the media, is excellent with sponsors and is a nice person.
Front Row might not be ideal, but drivers who disappear from the garage for a year can sometimes be forgotten. NASCAR is very much an "out of sight, out of mind" sport – and team owners will still keep Ragan in mind now.