Craven Michigan II post-race press conference

RICKY CRAVEN-32-Tide Taurus "It was a lot of fun. I felt good about the car from the get-go, and felt like the 28 car would be the car to beat, and he had his problems. When I saw that I said now it's all up for grabs. And I think I was at my ...

RICKY CRAVEN-32-Tide Taurus

"It was a lot of fun. I felt good about the car from the get-go, and felt like the 28 car would be the car to beat, and he had his problems. When I saw that I said now it's all up for grabs. And I think I was at my best late in the run and it was showing, towards the end we were catching Sterling. We just ran out of time."

ANOTHER STEP FORWARD FOR THE TEAM.

"It's been a great month and it was atreat for us to come here and win the pole and back it up by running in the top-five all day. I'm just glad we were able to do that because talk is cheap. I can sit in here and tell you how great the pole and how great we're going to run on Sunday but then we back it up. I never doubted it because the last month we've been performing. Mike [Beam, crew chief] made a great decision at the end to take two tires, because I think Rusty had gotten away from me. He obviously took tires, I guess, and as a result paid the price. But, Mike Beam made a great call. With the two tires I wasn't as good as the Dodges on the early run. They really put it on me. But then, after they slowed down and I slowed down, I moved back up to the high groove, which really worked well for me today and felt like I had a chance to win my first race."

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED.

"Should be ashamed, really, of being disappointed, but I can't hide it. For me, I really want to win that first race and I can't say there's the pressure I felt back in '97 when I was driving the Bud car, it was different. Now I want to do it because I'm getting old. Honestly, I said it earlier, the next five years, my best. I'm at my prime. You look at the history of NASCAR racing and drivers run their best between 35 and 40, and I feel great and I'm competitive. And I'm very happy with the performance today, I was chasing Sterling down and would've loved to have had 10 laps to duke it out. I sure want to complement him and his team. They've been running good all year, and they got a win - they certainly deserved it."

ON THE RAIN.

"When it began raining, it was a really tough situation because pit road had opened, so the guys on the lead lap behind us I'm sure snuck in, a few of them. Sterling and I were in a world of hurt at that point. If it had stopped raining, we were obviously going to pit, and then - I don't know how many guys behind us pitted, but they wouldn't have pitted. And then you just don't know what could happen. But with it raining, you say, 'Gosh, we're going to be second. I wish I could just have 10 more laps.' You got to be reasonable. That's what I gotta remind myself. Second, that's my best career finish and I got a lot of time, Tide's behind me 100 percent, the team's behind me and I really believe we're going to win a race."

AND NOW THE SUN IS OUT...

"We just got to take the 170 points and the second place, and just really feel good about it and charge on to next week and try to build on it and try to win and I think we've proven the last month that we can run at several places."

DO YOU FEEL THIS WAS YOUR CLOSEST TO WINNING?

"I felt like I gave a few away at Rockingham. There was '97, definitely, was our race to lose and we got a late caution. But, what was nice today was we ran top-five all day. I don't think we ever dropped out of the top five, so that was a show of strength. Good pit stops, good car, good engine, and that's something you can build on."

HOW CLOSE WAS YOUR CREW WATCHING THE WEATHER?

"It never was brought up. Honestly."

DURING THE FIRST RACE DELAY, YOU SAID YOU COULDN'T WAIT TO GET BACK BUT YOU HOPED THE SECOND GROOVE COMES BACK INTO PLAY. WHAT ABOUT THE TRACK CONDITIONS AFTER THE DELAY?

"That was my chance for victory was if the high groove came in. In fact, if the high groove was the preferred line. When we went back to racing, the track was completely green and had a lot of grip, and I turned to the bottom and I couldn't believe how much grip I had, so I ran the bottom for 10 laps and then eventually slid up. I was actually making headway at the end on the high side. But, it's still a great finish, just happy for Sterling, and we'll get after 'em next week."

DO YOU HARDLY EVER HAVE A PROBLEM WITH AERO PUSH AT THIS TRACK?

"It does if you have a lot of horsepower. It's a great race track. I think it's a model race track because it requires all aspects. You've got to have the handling and you could see that there were several options today. You could low, middle, the top. You clearly gotta have the horsepower, but then you got to look at the draft. Ricky Rudd put on a great demonstration early, how he could get a run off the corner and draft up behind Bill and drop to the bottom. I just think it's a great race track."

-Ford Racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup