With practice speeds in the Craftsman Truck Series nearing 194 mph in the draft on Wednesday, warmer temperatures and clearer skies saw a reduction in speeds during Thursday's happy hour practice session. Veteran driver Rick Crawford, who has 126...
With practice speeds in the Craftsman Truck Series nearing 194 mph in the draft on Wednesday, warmer temperatures and clearer skies saw a reduction in speeds during Thursday's happy hour practice session. Veteran driver Rick Crawford, who has 126 truck series starts in five seasons of competition, shared his feelings on the speeds of the trucks and the implications of a rule change prior to Friday's race.
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford F-150
YOU WERE ONE OF MANY DRIVERS THAT OPTED NOT TO PRACTICE FOR THE FULL 45 MINUTES THIS MORNING. DOES THE RISK OUTWEIGH THE REWARD AT THIS POINT? "We knew what we wanted to go out and do today, and that only took us a few minutes, so we decided to park it until the race. We threw on some old tires on the truck and I wasn't having any fun yesterday, so we wanted to get the comfort level back up in the truck in the draft and figured five or six laps would do it. That told me all I needed to know and we came back in and we're getting ready to race. We put the maximum practice time on the engine, and we need to finish tomorrow, so we decided to end it after a few laps. We need to fine tune the engine and the chassis a little bit before the garage closes at 3 o'clock and then we'll be ready to race."
THE TRUCKS ARE TURNING IN LAP TIMES FASTER THAN THE WINSTON CUP CARS. IN YOUR OPINION, IS THERE A NEED TO SLOW THE TRUCKS DOWN? "If you look at the cars and look at the trucks, you would think they would be faster than the trucks, but we have a different set of rules that govern the motors. They hand you a set of rules in the off-season and you build your trucks and motors according to that set of rules assuming they won't change them when you come here in February. You've got guys in this garage that are going to be in the red area of the rules and some guys will be in the gray area and some guys in the black. Personally, I'm going to play in the gray area and that's my job. That's my crew chief's job and my crew's job. They work real hard to prepare these trucks for Daytona, and they were handed the rules by NASCAR last year. If you look up at the board, is that my fault for mashing the gas all the way around? I'm not putting the blame on anybody, but we're running according to the rules, and if they decide we're running too fast, then we'll have to adjust the rules. It's up to NASCAR to slow us down because as drivers we're going to go as fast as the rules allow us."
YOU'RE A VETERAN IN THE TRUCK GARAGE, BUT THERE ARE SOME YOUNGER DRIVERS AND ROOKIES IN THE FIELD FOR TOMORROW'S RACE THAT HAVE NEVER RACED HERE BEFORE. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE 35 OTHER DRIVERS? "NASCAR would not allow these drivers on the track unless they were qualified. Again, it's their rulebook and they make the decisions on who is eligible and who isn't. I wouldn't be afraid if you brought me in a truck here and we ran 250 mph. I have a need for speed and I enjoy what I do. This to me is the best job next to a country music singer or rock star. Speed really doesn't matter. This is only my third year here and I'm still learning things every time I go on the race track. I've seen a lot of veterans tear things up here, so it's not just a rookie problem."
IS THERE CERTAIN POINT WHERE YOU CAN'T DIFFERENTIATE THE SPEEDS IN TRUCK ON A SUPERSPEEDWAY? "If you came out and told me this morning that I ran 180 mph, I would have believed you, but in actuality, we ran 190 mph. When I radioed in, they told me we were running 191 mph, and I can't tell a difference in the cockpit of the truck. Ten miles is a lot when you're comparing 30 mph to 40 mph, but percent-wise there's not a big difference between 180 and 190. There may be some more stability at slower speeds, but I think that NASCAR has put enough air restraints on these things, and that's enough. I'm not an engine man, so I don't know what's making these things go so fast, but I think it's a matter of massaging what you have to work with. We're doing our part on these pickup trucks as much as the Cup guys do on their cars."
WHEN IS IT TOO LATE TO INSTITUTE A RULE CHANGE BEFORE A RACE? "It depends on what type of rule change that you're talking about. If you're talking about an aero change, we need to give everyone a chance to run it in a practice session. If you're talking about an engine change, you take a chance on hurting a lot of equipment, but it isn't necessarily going to hurt a driver because these engines need a chance to run on a restrictor plate. You need to tune them a little differently and would need to change the jets in the carburetor so you're not blowing up $100,000 worth of equipment. Ideally, you want dyno an engine before competition with an engine modification. I'd hate to see a rule change right now, especially after what we've prepared for all winter. We built this truck, tested this truck and now we're getting to race this truck with the rules that were given to us, and for something to get slapped on these trucks in the eleventh hour is kinda like getting slapped in the face."