Crawford, Starr Preseason Thunder - Ford interview

Circle Bar Racing will run a two-truck team for the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series season teaming veterans Rick Crawford and David Starr. Crawford, a five-time truck series winner, and Starr, a four-time series winner, took part in an afternoon...

Circle Bar Racing will run a two-truck team for the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series season teaming veterans Rick Crawford and David Starr. Crawford, a five-time truck series winner, and Starr, a four-time series winner, took part in an afternoon press conference discussing upcoming season.

DAVID STARR-10-MaxxForce International Diesel Power Ford F-150

WHEN YOU START THE SEASON AT DAYTONA, YOU WILL BE MAKING YOUR FIRST START IN A FORD, BUT IT ALSO WILL MARK THE FACT THAT YOU'VE COMPETED IN ALL FOUR MANUFACTURERS' VEHICLES. "I'm just excited to be here because a week ago today, I was not sure what my future was. I thought I was going to come to Daytona to watch. Reflecting on what you commented about being with all four manufacturers, that wasn't by choice. You always want to marry yourself up with a manufacturer, but just the way this business is and circumstances that happen, it just seemed like it worked out that way. Last year, 2006 was a great year working with Jeff Hammond and Tom DeLoach with Red Horse Racing and Jamie Jones, my crew chief. We had a great year and it was a great season. The team was great, but in this line of business you've got to have a sponsor, and they weren't able to get a sponsor for the 2007 season. So, Tom and Jeff called me right after the end of the season at Homestead and said, 'Hey, if a better offer comes, you need to jump on it and really study it. Make sure it's good, and take it if it's a good offer because right at this point, we're not going to be able to run the 2007 season.' Rick Crawford had mentioned to me right toward the end of the year that they were working on trying to put together a two-truck team for 2007 and wanted to know if I was interested in working with him. I listened to him and told him when he thought the deal would really happen to call me. I never heard from it. That was probably two months before the season was over with, and right before Tom and Jeff called me and let me know about our situation with Red Horse Racing, I immediately picked up the phone and called Rick Crawford and he said, 'We've been talking about you. We're working everything out with our sponsor and our manufacturer, and I'll be back in touch with in about a week.' He called me back in about a week and said, 'It's coming together and we'd for sure like you to join our team, and we want you to be a part of Circle Bar Racing.' Man, I hung the phone up and had a big ole smile on my face because I knew at that point that it was possible that I was going to join Circle Bar Racing. As time went by and we went to the banquet, they were trying to put everything together and it just seemed like it was going to happen, going to happen and then all of a sudden it didn't happen. They wanted to announce it at the banquet, and we went to the banquet and didn't have everything put together. Man, after I left the banquet, Christmas went by and New Year's went by and I'm thinking, 'I might not race in 2007.' So, I was kind of concerned and nervous and worried. I got the phone call and it was Friday last week, Rick called and said, 'It looks really good. It's not 100 percent, and I should know something late.' I said, 'Dude, as soon as you find out, call me because I can't stand it.' He called me late Friday night and said, 'Dude, you're our driver. It's a done deal.' I walked around with a smile on my face Saturday and Sunday and was going to head to Charlotte on Monday morning, and then I got the bad news about Bobby Hamilton. So, I was jumping around like little kid all day Saturday and early Sunday morning, and then I got the news about Bobby. It was a great time and a sad time all in one weekend, so a lot of emotions flowed last weekend. I'm glad to be here today and glad to be out here at Daytona testing."

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT THIS LEVEL AFTER SWITCHING TO A NEW TEAM? "Well, it's so important to have chemistry with your crew chief, your team and your guys that work on the team. I've been with four different manufacturers, and when you make a change and work with a new group of guys, it's so important to come to Daytona and work with your crew chief because they're finding out what you like and what you need to be comfortable, and everybody is working together and you development a relationship. It's hard for me to tell right now. If somebody asks me what it's like driving a Ford compared to a Toyota last year, it's hard to tell at Daytona because when you get here you're wide open and you never lift. We're going to leave here and go to Homestead-Miami on Wednesday and Thursday, and I'll be able to answer that question a lot better. When you come to Daytona, you're wide open and you just hold it wide open, and there's not much a driver can do behind the wheel to pick up speed or to lose speed. All they have to do is turn a bolt here and there to pick up and lose. There are some differences, but I don't think I'll be able to tell until next week. It's big to come here and test and work together and start the camaraderie with your group of guys and start that relationship your crew chief. That's what we've been doing for a day and a half here, and we'll continue to do that the rest of the day and tomorrow."

YOU COMPETED FOR A TOYOTA TEAM LAST YEAR. ASSESS THEIR ENTRY INTO NEXTEL CUP COMPETITION. "When Toyota came into NASCAR racing in 2004, I was driving in a Chevrolet truck at the time, but we saw the way they came in. They came in and they were competitive, but they weren't winning a lot of races. You saw a lot of engineering personnel walking throughout the garage area. It seemed like they flooded the garage. It was so much support from their manufacturer, engine people, engineer and aero people. You watched over time, and at the end of the 2004 season, they were winning a lot of races and then 2005 came along and they really stepped up their program and were winning races and running good. When I had the opportunity to join a Toyota team, I took advantage of it. It seems to me that Toyota is really serious about racing from a manufacturer standpoint because, from what I can tell and working with them all last year - they weren't involved in the Busch Series yet, and they weren't involved in the Nextel Cup Series yet - it seemed like from the manufacturer standpoint that all of their resources were in their garage in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and that's why we saw so many of them and so much of their resources in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage. Well, here it is 2007, and I think we'll see some of that not as much as we have in the past years - not so much on your face, call it - because of the entry into all three series. I don't think we'll see that. It was very surprising to see them when they came and to see them today just because, and I think the way I look at it, you take a manufacturer and they loved it that they were involved in NASCAR racing in the truck series and everything they had they threw at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and that's why everybody was like, 'Wow.' One thing that comes to mind is that they're just throwing a lot of money at it, but now that they're involved in all three series, like all of the manufacturers are, it looks like the playing field might even out."

DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO RACE IN ANY OTHER SERIES THIS YEAR? "I would love to have the opportunity at the Nextel Cup Series, and thought I was going to have an opportunity driving the 88 car for Robert Yates. I talked to him a couple of times throughout the year. We talked about different things, and he never really came out and asked me. I think I had more media and people call me and say, 'we've been hearing your name a lot. What's going on?' It's like, 'You know more than I do.' Really, during the off-season I had a lot of people call me and tell that that they were hearing rumors that I was going to get the 88 ride. I said, 'I like your rumor, but I haven't heard from anybody.' So, no, I haven't really talked to anybody in the Nextel Cup Series. I would love an opportunity. I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't. I tell everybody that I'm just blessed and honored to be a part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I'm living a dream. It's a great series and it's so competitive and it's just growing and growing every year, and I'm just glad to be a part of it. But, if I get the opportunity, I'm going to jump on it."

WITH YOU TESTING THE NO. 10 THIS WEEKEND, IS THAT AN INDICATION THAT YOU ACQUIRED THE ASSETS FROM PPC RACING? "Yes. Circle Bar Racing did buy all of the asset from ppc, all of the trucks and all of the equipment. I guess they bought the whole team, and with that came the 10 number and Dennis Connor, the three-time champion (crew chief) in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I flew over to the shop in Concord (N.C.) on Monday morning and they didn't stop bringing stuff to the shop until Wednesday night when we were still unloading trucks and trailers of equipment. The truck that I am driving here today is a backup truck that Rick Crawford has had for the speedways; one that he has never raced on one of these speedways. It's his truck, his seat. It doesn't fit me very good. I worked on it at the shop because it took me two days to put my seat in the truck that we're testing on Wednesday and Thursday down in Miami, Florida. It's the truck that I will race in California. I'm looking forward to that. The seat is in there and I'm a lot more comfortable. The truck that I'm running here today, I was just glad to be here and glad that they had a truck for us. If they had a bucket in there, I'd have figured out how to put padding in there just to be our there testing and practicing."

YOU MUST FEEL GOOD THAT THE TEAM ISN'T STARTING FROM SCRATCH? "You look at the dynamics, and I thought last year being involved with Toyota and Red Horse Racing with Jamie Jones as the crew chief and Tom DeLoach and Jeff Hammond, it was a great opportunity and to finish fourth in the points and have a competitive year. We won a race and we were really looking forward to 2007, but when I got the news that maybe we wouldn't run and you need to go out there and try to find another ride, I spoke to Rick Crawford and he told me how all of this was going to work and when I finally signed up with Circle Bar Racing, I got a crew chief in Dennis Connor that's a three-time champion. I've actually got two crew chiefs because I've got Kevin "Cowboy" Starland, Rick's crew chief, too, and then I'm working with Rick Crawford, and the guy's been around forever and has had so much success, a great teammate, and I've never had a teammate so the dynamics have changed. I think you can take two teams that were very competitive last year - I think Rick finished ninth last year, and Terry (Cook) was eighth - they were both in the top 10 and they both won races, and now we're combining these efforts into one racing team. I look for us to have a lot of success early on just because of the dynamics of everything and the people involved. You have Rick Crawford, you have Dennis Connor and you have Kevin "Cowboy" Starland, so you have a lot of heavy hitters involved in this one team, so I'm excited about that."

IN TERMS OF MANUFACTURER SUPPORT, HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCES IN THE DAY AND A HALF THAT YOU'VE BEEN IN DAYTONA? "Well, not really. It's only been a day and a half. One thing that I was talking about, the dynamics of Circle Bar Racing is that there are so many heavy hitters in this deal. I've got Rick, my teammate, and I can go over and say, 'Hey, man, what's you truck doing? How's it feel?' We can talk back and forth and I've really never had that before. Even though Toyota says that they work as one team and all of the drivers and everybody share information, I couldn't really walk over to Todd Bodine and say, 'How does your truck feel?' and really trust what he was telling me. He kinda told me what he wanted to tell me and I pretty figured out, ' Hey, keep it to yourself.' When you have two teams working together as one team, I can just sit down with Rick and talk about things and that's really been pretty cool. I've talked to his crew chief and I've talked to some of his shock guys and his truck chief. My guys, there's been support from Ford over there, we've been talking back and forth. So, up until this point, it's only been a day and a half, but it's about the same as what I had before. Like I said, the reason why Toyota flooded the series garage with support manufacturer-wise and people was because they were only involved in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I'm really looking forward to 2007 and working with Rick, and there's going to be a lot of things that I'm going to be watching. One of those things in the back of my head, I just want to see - and I don't know if this is the right words - is how much Toyota falls off with support of people in the garage area just because of them getting in the Nextel Cup Series and the Busch Series. I've spoken to Jamie Jones, my crew chief from last year, and he said, 'Man, we're behind. We just got our nose.' It was just all because of Toyota getting in the Nextel Cup Series; it's put all of their truck operations behind. What we're talking about is starting to happen."

DID YOU HAVE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO YOU FOR 2007? "There were a couple of other opportunities, but you look at them and they throw a number out there, and they always think the money deal is always how you're going to make your decision. I told Rick, and Rick will tell you, it's like, 'We're working on it.' I told him, 'I just want to let you know that I'm your guy and I hope it happens but if not I'm going to be working on your team as a crew member because I don't want anything else.' I talked to three other teams and when I talked to them it was all about, 'We'll pay you this much money.' It's not always about the money. It's about having a great teammate and having an operation that you know will grow and it will be there year after year and having a team you can work together with everybody and winning races. I know from this team, the 10 team from last year, and from Circle Bar buying all of the equipment from ppc and from what Rick did last year, we've got two competitive teams from last year that joined forces. It's just going to get better. I knew I wanted to be part of that because I never had a teammate. This is my first time in my career to have a teammate and I wanted to be part of that. That's what I kept telling Rick, and I bothered him all the time. It's like, 'Dude, I'm your man. If it don't happen I'm going to be watching because I'm not taking all of that other stuff; I don't want it.'"

***

RICK CRAWFORD-14-Ford Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l F-150

YOU'VE ADDED A SECOND TEAM TO CIRCLE BAR RACING THIS YEAR. "I feel pretty excited about it. I just wish that this operation was started back in September, the talks about what we were going to do. I just wish that things would have happened a little sooner than they did last Monday. With four full days and a couple of days in the shop for David, and a day and a half here at the race track, I hate that for him and Dennis. It was really and truly on Monday when the call was made that this deal was put together. It was just supposed to Dennis and David being here to support a second truck for me. My team, the Circle Bar 14 team, had already anticipated this program coming together, but in the last four months it looked like the heartbeat of America. I hate to describe Chevrolet, but it was an up and down roller coaster. But, we finally got this deal put together and on Monday made the calls. I had the guys showing up at the shop. It was a little bit discouraging. Dennis made a few calls to get some of the original team back from ppc, and some of those guys had found jobs, which I don't blame them, because they were shut down for about three weeks. By Monday evening, we almost had a full team put together. We've got a couple of spots that we're needing to fix on the 10 team, and we've got some positions at Circle Bar Racing to fix, but other than that, we've got two pretty strong teams already in a matter of days. I just wish the guys would have been on top of it. I think it shows, and maybe by tomorrow, I feel certain the 14 and the 10 will be back up to speed.'

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF CREATING A MULTI-TRUCK OPERATION AT CIRCLE BAR RACING? "I see some instant positives, and I have since the deal started forming. The situation at hand today, this weekend, is David doesn't have the opportunity to drive a ppc truck. When we purchased the trucks on Monday, we didn't have the time to put the '07 Ford noses on them and things like that, so actually Dennis is here working on a truck that he's not familiar with. They've made leaps and bounds of improvements in it, and so has Cowboy on my truck. I can see both teams getting along and both teams working hard together as one team, and I see them making some accomplishments. As far as growing pains are concerned, I think once the 10 and the 14 reach Daytona, I believe the growing pains will be over. The growing pains will be in the next two weeks, and that's to get the '07 trucks prepared. We have six trucks that we bought from ppc, and we also have some extra 14 trucks and we've also bought two brand new trucks for the 14 team to add to its arsenal that it had last year. They're completely brand new, so I'm looking forward to running them, and, in fact, we've got one of them going to Homestead this week for the Wednesday and Thursday test, and David has one, too."

YOU ARE A FORMER WINNER AT DAYTONA. DOES THE NEW NOSE ON THE FORD FOR 2007 DIMINISH THE VALUE OF YOUR NOTES FROM PREVIOUS RACES? "To me, notes are only good for maybe getting to a race track and maybe going back on to lean on them a little bit. I think every time that you go to a race track, usually somebody changes the tires or changes the prep to the track or something. The innovation of racing is changing so fast these days that notes are becoming obsolete in six months. So, a lot of times in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, we don't have the luxury of going back to a track twice, so when we circle back around a year later, the notes aren't good anymore. Usually it's just a baseline to go on."

DISCUSS HOW YOU CAN DRAW FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE TO MAKE THE TWO-TRUCK OPERATION SUCCESSFUL. "One thing I think it is, I'm a team player and I'm at the shop nearly all of the time, and it's my responsibility to Circle Bar Racing. For the last four years, a two-truck team has been on our radar and we haven't had the opportunity to put a sponsor and factory support together, plus a crew chief and a driver and a team as we did with the equipment this time around. So, this time around it all fit and it all came together. Believe me, it was tough getting the manufacturer, the sponsor, the crew chief and the driver that Tom Mitchell wanted, and all of it finally came together. We were in a little crunch for time here, but it all came together. Like everybody says, I've never had a teammate, but the evolution of racing has changed a big deal, and one selling point I had to Dan Davis of Ford Motor Co., I said, 'John Force is your baby in NHRA Drag Racing.' I asked, 'Would you expect John Force and the Castrol Ford Mustang team to win the NHRA Funny Car championship with one car?' I said, 'It's going to be hard for Rick Crawford to do it with the 14 truck.' Anyway, back a couple, three years ago when Brendan Gaughan almost won with an independent team out of Las Vegas, my hat was off to him. They did one heckuva job. It's tough for him to do it today, and he's next on the podium and he'll be glad to say that I'm sure."'

DO YOU OFTEN THINK ABOUT THE THREE-WIDE FINISH IN THE RACE THAT YOU WON HERE IN 2003? "I think about that daily. I really do. It was a pretty neat deal to be able to pull that one off. I had some good friends that day racing with me. We came back with a plan. Me and him (Gaughan) and Mike Wallace had a plan all day long and we did it. Up until 10 laps to go, he ran out of gas and Mike Wallace dented the nose on his particular truck and it left me out there to do it all. We made that decision that we would race with 10 laps to go, but during that whole race you saw all three of us together out here. It's just like Travis is doing out here this weekend. He's going to have a lot of friends in time for Daytona; he's flying. He'll have a lot of friends to tuck up under that 6 truck."

-credit: ford racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR-TRUCK