Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is the midst of his rookie season in the Craftsman Truck Series, but the 27-year-old Roush Racing driver already has his future mapped out for him. It was announced this week that Kluever would...
Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is the midst of his rookie season in the Craftsman Truck Series, but the 27-year-old Roush Racing driver already has his future mapped out for him. It was announced this week that Kluever would assume driving duties of the No. 6 Ford currently driven by Mark Martin in the Nextel Cup Series beginning in 2007. Kluever, who has three second-place finishes this season, discussed returning to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second time this season and his future with Roush Racing.
TODD KLUEVER-50-Shell Rotella T Ford F-150
TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES COMING BACK TO ATLANTA NOW FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR. "My personal deal is that I'm a lot more comfortable in the truck now. The place is really fast, but it seems slower to me now. The first time it was kind of overwhelming and it was our first real big race track. We came here after California in the spring, but you actually go faster here and the sensation of speed is a lot bigger here. I'm just a lot more comfortable now in the truck. This is a new truck and it's probably a lot better than the truck we brought here in the spring, too. When you have the combination of having a fast truck and being comfortable on the track, it's nice to come back. We didn't get many laps here in the spring because of engine problems, so it's definitely better this time around. It's a lot easier to process mentally now just because I have more experience in the truck and more experience on this type of race track. It's the same race track, though, but it seems a little bit easier to drive."
HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THERE ARE MULTIPLE RACING GROOVES ON THE TRACK WITH THE TRUCKS? "There definitely are, and it a matter of finding out how to make them work. You can definitely tell differences in how hard to get in into the corner. Once the tires get old, you have to figure out how hard you get in and where you pick up the throttle and how it affects your truck. I'm starting to figure that out and that's one of the neatest things. I've always been a big fan of this place, even when we were here in the spring. I've been a big fan of this place because you can actually race here. You can't really hide and you can't block because there's always a way around. It's an exciting place to come."
YOU POSTED ANOTHER SECOND-PLACE FINISH LAST WEEK IN MARTINSVILLE, SO HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO GET A WIN IN THE FINAL FOUR RACES? "Last week was our third second-place finish in the last nine races. I've let it consume me for the last five or six races, and it hasn't happened yet. I'm coming in with the attitude for the rest of the season that if we win, we win, and if we don't, we don't and it wasn't meant to be. We've run second so many times, and if we keep running like we have it's bound to happen. Next to the 30 truck, we've probably been the most consistent truck the latter half of the season. It will come when it comes and there's nothing we're going to do to force it, and that's just the way it is. I just need to take some of the pressure that I've been putting on myself to win off and just go back to racing."
YOUR LONG-TERM RACING PLANS WERE DISCLOSED THIS WEEK WHEN IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT YOU WILL TAKE OVER DRIVING DUTIES OF THE NO. 6 FORD IN NEXTEL CUP IN 2007. "It's pretty cool to have a planned out future here at Roush, even though I knew I kinda always had one, but it's nice to see it laid out. It's quite an honor to take over the 6 car when Mark retires, and it's really nice to work for a company that believes enough in you to give you that chance, and it's really nice to have a sponsor in AAA to come along as a rookie that will give you that chance to walk into, as I've said before, one of the top five most famous cars in NASCAR history."
WHEN DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU WERE A CANDIDATE FOR THE NO. 6 FORD? "I've known for a little while now, but it's been the hardest thing for me to keep secret. It's everything I've ever dreamed of in my entire life. You want to run out and tell everyone, but unfortunately you can't. I've known for a while, and it's nice to have it all out in the open now. It was nice to have three weeks off there so I could spend them in La-La Land dreaming about the future. I was happy to have three weeks off when things were all starting to take shape because I didn't want it to affect what's going on with my Shell Rotella guys and our truck. Fortunately it didn't, and we're back to square one here and we want to win races, and we have probably as good or a better chance than a lot of people here. That's all I'm worried about now. Next year is Busch racing and '07 is Cup racing and I can't do anything to speed it up, so I might as well enjoy what I'm doing now and win races."
COMING OFF OF A SECOND-PLACE FINISH LAST WEEK IN MARTINSVILLE AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF YOUR IMPENDING NEXTEL CUP CAREER, DO YOU FIND YOURSELF WITH A SPRING IN YOUR STEP THIS WEEK? "There definitely is. That's probably the best compliment that I'll ever get as a race car driver is that Jack Roush chose me to fill the 6 car. It's a tremendous compliment and it shows that he believes in me and it's just nice to have a future planned out. This is not a career where there's a lot of job security and it's nice to know that they have a plan for me, and they plan on keeping me around for a long time. It kind of lets me get back to just worrying about driving race cars."