MIAMI (January 10, 2001) -- Rick Crawford will be looking to break a tradition when he returns to Homestead-Miami Speedway March 2-4 for the season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400. The Mobile, Alabama driver is seeking to become the first two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner at the Speedway in the weekend, which features family-friendly pricing.
With defending winner Andy Houston and 1999 victor Mike Wallace both moving up to the premier NASCAR Winston Cup division for 2001, Crawford will be the only former winner competing. He will be up against a solid lineup of returning vets and promising newcomers looking to extend the no-repeat winner tradition to six consecutive years.
"That's a tradition I'd like to break," said Crawford, who will return in the bright red No. 14 Milwaukee Electric Tools Ford. "I want to be a two-time winner in Miami, and I think we can. We won there in 1998, and have had two straight top-10 finishes since then.
"I even think we've got a better shot to win this year than I did in 1998, when I wound up winning. We've always run well at Miami, and I think our team's better than it's been the past two years, when we finished in the top 10."
This year, there's a great group of talented newcomers entering the series who will be driving a truck at Miami for the first time. Lance Norick, David Star and Carlos Contreras are among the drivers still seeking their first NCTS victories. This year also could see Jack Sprague, Joe Ruttman or one of the series' vets finally take the checkered flag and keep alive the no-repeat tradition.
Crawford explained it's no coincidence that Homestead often favors the underdog.
"There's a reason you've got so many different winners at Homestead, and that's because you've got to have all the ingredients working together to win there. You need a fast engine down the straightaway, good handling package in the corners, a good crew in the pits, and a setup you can work with when the weather and wind changes. Homestead really adds character to the winner. Winning that race was the highlight of my career."
The Florida Dodge Dealers is paired with the Nextel 250, a Saturday afternoon Grand American Road Racing Association race on the challenging 2.4-mile infield road circuit, to give fans the opportunity to witness two very different -- yet very competitive forms of motorsports. The weekend also is a great opportunity to introduce the youngsters to America's most exciting sport, with children 12 and under admitted free both to the grandstands and Paddock all weekend when accompanied by a paying adult.
The weekend opens with Friday practice and qualifying for the Grand-Am sports cars, plus a three-hour Motorola Cup race, with an unreserved grandstand price of $10. Saturday includes opening NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice and qualifying, followed by the Grand-Am Nextel 250. Unreserved grandstand admission is $15.
The sixth annual Florida Dodge Dealers 400 is set for Sunday, March 4, with unreserved grandstand seats priced at $25 to view all the action on the 1.5-mile oval.
Weekend Paddock passes, allowing fans to view the cars close up and meet the drivers and crewmen, cost $25 for the weekend.
Tickets for the Florida Dodge Dealers 400/Grand-Am Nextel 250 weekend are available by calling (305) 230-RACE, or may be ordered on-line at www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.