ERIN CROCKER RETURNS TO MIS IN HOPES OF BUILDING ON SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH FROM A YEAR AGO LOCAL FAVORITE JOHNNY BENSON ON HAND TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2006) - One would think that a driver who had finished seventh at...
ERIN CROCKER RETURNS TO MIS IN HOPES OF BUILDING ON SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH FROM A YEAR AGO
LOCAL FAVORITE JOHNNY BENSON ON HAND TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 14, 2006) - One would think that a driver who had finished seventh at MIS just a year ago would need no further help on the two-mile oval, but Erin Crocker's drive for racing keeps her wanting to build on the result which made her the second-highest female finisher in track history.
As a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Crocker also plans to run a limited schedule in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2006. In preparation for the June 16 Hantz Group 200 during MIS's ARCA testing session on May 23, she was accompanied by Michigan native and fellow NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Johnny Benson in the garage. Though she acknowledges a certain recognition of how to run well at MIS, the humble Crocker maintains that there is always more to learn.
"Evernham Motorsports and Ray Evernham have done a lot to help me," said Crocker. "Sometimes it's hard to relate with a crew chief who's never been a driver, so it's just good to have a driver coach. Johnny's been nice enough to come out here and help as a mentor."
Count Benson as a believer in the young Crocker. The Grand Rapids native who calls Michigan his home track and has made 24 starts at MIS (including five top-five finishes) would normally have to make a much more thorough explanation to a young driver like Crocker if called upon. However, he already believes Crocker understands how to succeed and that he might not need to help her so much at Michigan.
"I think the experience that I have here will help some, but I can probably help her more come race time," said Benson. "She can go fast, but she just needs a little bit of help with some race stuff. They're throwing her to the wolves, going from the dirt cars to this type of cars to the trucks. That's just a huge, huge jump, a bigger jump than I've ever taken. I think she just needs that little bit of a foundation and once she gets that, she'll be fine.
"As long as they get some people to help her out, which is kind of what I'm doing, this will be a good thing for her and for the sport. For her to come and get some success will be good for racing. She's got a lot of desire and I think she's got a lot of talent too. She'll have to get through that learning process the best that she can and with as much help as she can."
Even as seasoned drivers like Benson and others continue to realize Crocker's potential not only as a female driver but as a driver in general, a certain novelty still surrounds her status as one of the only females in the top levels of motorsports. Crocker understands that there are two sides to the coin, which drives her to succeed.
"I've gotten used to (the recognition), but like I say in every interview, there are positives and negatives to being a female in this sport," she said. "If I do well, it gets recognized right away but if I do badly, it also gets recognized right away."
If Crocker knows how to benefit from teaching and learning experiences (likely as she owns a bachelor's degree in industrial and management engineering), then her racing career should carry some exciting moments in the future. Crocker admits that both the ARCA and Craftsman Truck Series have helped her immensely, and it appears that she understands what to learn from each different style of racing.
"ARCA's been an excellent training ground," said Crocker. "The top levels of NASCAR right now are really, really competitive, and the ARCA series is a great place to learn because it's not too cutthroat or anything. Honestly, it's a confidence booster for me to come over here and run well at any time."
With a veteran on her side, a solid team in her back pocket, and the clarity of mind to understand what it takes to win in different types of racing, Erin Crocker seems to be ready to engineer her own success behind the wheel of any vehicle.
Tickets for the 3M Performance 400 presented by Post-it® Picture Paper and the Hantz Group 200 are currently on sale at MIS's official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Tickets to all other events, which include the IRL IndyCar Series, NASCAR Busch Series, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are also now available.