Atlanta: Ricky Craven preview

Ricky Craven No. 32 Tide Chevrolet Monte Carlo HICKORY, NC (March 9, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, has finished in the top-13 in the past three spring races in Atlanta with PPI Motorsports. Since 2001, he has...

Ricky Craven
No. 32 Tide Chevrolet Monte Carlo

HICKORY, NC (March 9, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, has finished in the top-13 in the past three spring races in Atlanta with PPI Motorsports. Since 2001, he has finished 13th, 5th and 12th respectively in the spring race. Craven considers Atlanta one of his favorite tracks on the circuit and is looking forward to this weekend's activities at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet:

The past three years with PPI Motorsports, this team has posted some great finishes at Atlanta. Is this a track that really suits yourself and this team?

"I really like Atlanta. It has become one of my favorite tracks because there are so many different ways to race and so many different grooves. As it has aged, it has become a much better race track. It doesn't have as much grip as the newer 1.5-mile tracks, and you can slide around. It is a little bit rough. It has become better with age. I enjoy race tracks where if you are not running as well as you'd like, you can move around and try to find a place where your car runs faster instead of running around the bottom of the race track. I love being able to pass on the high side, low side or right in the middle. I think it's a racer's dream to maneuver and have choices. I really enjoy that...it suits me and this Tide Racing team."

"The 2001 fall race we led a handful of laps and was racing side-by-side with Dale, Jr. and the car popped out of gear. I was actually racing with one hand, trying to pass him for the lead and keeping it in gear until it finally broke. We were really disappointed because we thought we had a car to win that day."

Dave Charpentier, crew chief of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet

What car are you taking to Atlanta?

"We chose car No. 39 to bring to Atlanta and we made this decision based on aero testing and on track testing. We tested at Nashville Superspeedway over our off-weekend and brought two cars. We brought car No. 39 and car No. 42. We felt like we needed to take car No. 42 to Las Vegas, because that car has a better flat track type balance and we decided to take car No. 39 to Atlanta because it had a good overall balance on it and we thought the body was better suited for it. Atlanta is much faster than Vegas because of the higher banking, so it takes a bit of a different package. We thought car No. 39 would be a better choice for Atlanta and car No. 42 for Vegas."

What makes Atlanta different than the other 1.5-mile tracks?

"Atlanta is the fastest 1.5-mile track we go to. It's got a lot of grip and the asphalt is getting older, so it may be a little different with this new tire, but I'm sure qualifying will be all about getting as much as you can grip-wise and aero-wise out of the car for one lap. It is the fastest track we go to. It's a unique track....it's so fast and you have a lot of grip, so the car has to handle good, but you have to have your aero package well sorted out. The cars will pick up a bad aero push in traffic, but it is a multiple groove race track, you can run high or run

low and your driver can search around there to find what works. Ricky runs well up top and he can pass on the high side, while you will see other guys running on the low side and running well. The driver can search around there and find the right balance for him between mechanical and grip and get around traffic. So it is really unique."

How will the new tire and spoiler combination be a factor this weekend at Atlanta?

"Atlanta tends to wear out right-rear tires, but that might be different with this new tire. We also have less spoiler, which equals less total downforce. It's going to be a little bit different with the aero package we have too. We didn't test at Atlanta, so we're going to have to adapt a little bit and learn on the fly. But as the track ages, you see less of a problem with excessive tire wear and blown tires, because you don't have quite as much grip and generate the heat which caused the problems you used to have. We've gotten smarter about where we need to be with air pressure, camber and setups to keep the tires from wearing unsafely. It takes a complete package to do well at Atlanta. It takes a driver that will go out there and willing to hold it almost wide open all the way around there and you've got to have the downforce and be hooked up at the same time."

Atlanta Appearances:

* Friday, March 12th: Craven will stop by his souvenir rig approximately 30 minutes following qualifying.

* Saturday, March 13th: Craven will sign autographs from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Sears Department Store at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chassis No. 39: The Tide Racing team is taking Chassis No. 39 to Atlanta this weekend. In 2003, this car made three starts and posted one top-10 finish.

-ppi-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ricky Craven