Ford Preseason Thunder notes 2006-01-14

Throughout the first two days of Craftsman Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway, the Roush Racing Fords have been consistently been at the top of the speed charts. Sharing driving duties have been Erik Darnell, David Ragan, Mark...

Throughout the first two days of Craftsman Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway, the Roush Racing Fords have been consistently been at the top of the speed charts. Sharing driving duties have been Erik Darnell, David Ragan, Mark Martin and Todd Kluever. Darnell and Ragan have been the primary drivers and both are finalists in the Discovery Channel's weekly series "Roush Racing: Driver X."

ERIK DARNELL-99-Roush Racing Ford F-150 - HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR FIRST DAY OF TESTING AT DAYTONA? "I think we had a pretty good morning and afternoon wasn't bad either. We really went out there and made single-truck runs in the afternoon. I got out there and only got in the draft with Mark (Martin) for about 10 laps. Beyond that, I really never really got in a pack. We were just trying some stuff to make the truck better by itself. I think we made gains on it."

YOU POSTED THE FASTEST TIME AGAIN THIS MORNING, AND IT APPEARS THE ROUSH TRUCKS HAVE THE EARLY ADVANTAGE. "We're both pretty quick. I wouldn't necessarily call it all driver here because you're at a superspeedway, but the guys back in the shop having been putting together some awesome trucks. They've been working their butts off, and I think it's showing out there on the track right now."

THE WINDS HAVE PICKED UP CONSIDERABLY TODAY. IS IT HAVING AN IMPACT WITH THE TRUCKS ON THE TRACK? "You can feel it going down the backstretch. I got hit with it a couple of times coming off of two and kind of lost the nose of the truck; it didn't feel like I had a whole lot of grip. It's noticeable, but I don't think it's slowing them down a whole lot. If we come back here and we race and it's windy out like that, we'll have a little bit of experience with it, but I don't think it's hurting too much."

WITH ALL OF THE RESOURCES AT YOUR DISPOSAL, DO YOU EVEN FEEL LIKE A ROOKIE OUT ON THE TRACK? "We're definitely a couple of rookies. I've never made any trucks starts before, and I've only been on a couple of speedways. Besides that, between me and David, they're really behind us. They're helping us out with whatever we need and I think it's showing on the track."

WHAT KIND OF SUPERSPEEDWAY EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? "I ran the ARCA race at Talladega. I ended up making it to the end, but I only have one superspeedway start, so any drafting experience we can get is definitely going to help us."

HOW MUCH HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THE DRAFT IN THE FIRST TWO DAYS OF TESTING? "I'm still learning the draft big time. All I've had was that ARCA race at Talladega and then yesterday I only got about 10 laps out there, and I was only out there with Mark; I wasn't out there in a pack of truck or anything like that. He was behind me for five laps and I was behind him for five laps and that's all I've got out here in a truck. I've definitely got a lot to learn and we're going to go out there this afternoon, and David and I are going to take the backup trucks out and try to get in a group out there and go at it and see what we can find out."

WERE YOU COMMUNICATING WITH MARK ON THE RADIO WHILE YOU WERE ON THE TRACK YESTERDAY? "We weren't talking to one another on the radio, but when we came back in he said his truck felt good when I was behind him, and mine felt good when he was behind me, so pushing and pulling each other whichever way, they were both real stable in the draft and hopefully they'll be that way in a pack."

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED STARDOM FROM BEING PART OF THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL TV SHOW? "No, not really. We got the TV exposure and things like that, but it's not like you go out and get noticed or anything like that."

ROUSH RACING WAS SHUT OUT OF VICTORY LANE LAST YEAR IN THE TRUCK SERIES. HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL BE THIS YEAR? "I'll tell you what, the guys in the shop, they've been really working their butts off in there. They've got some nice equipment this year. With Mark coming on board, they were going to really jump on that to get everything top notch. Mark and Todd (Kluever) both ran well at the end of last year in some of the newer trucks, and they're looking to go out this year and improve on last year."

THERE IS A LARGE ROOKIE CROP THIS YEAR IN THE SERIES. COMMENT ON THE ROOKIE RACE THIS SEASON. "I was looking at a couple of the websites online and there are quite a few of us out there. Myself, Aric Almirola, Joey Miller, Kraig Kinser, Erin Crocker and Robert Richardson; there's just a big group of guys. I'll be honest and say that I haven't really watched rookie races in the Craftsman Truck Series the past few years. I know that last year Todd pretty much was out there by himself. If Timothy (Peters) had run all of the races it probably would have been a little closer. It's going to be a tough year."

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON? "Where we're at with the whole Driver X deal with me and David (Ragan), it's not really decided yet, so I don't know exactly what's going to happen when we go out there. Between me and him, and then with Mark running part time, we're going to try to run real well, run in the top five and maybe win a race or two."

BEING A ROOKIE, DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WHEN MARK MARTIN IS NOT RUNNING AS A TEAMMATE? "We still are going to have Mark around doing this. Mark is going to run six or seven races, and it's big, having him out here testing with us and telling us what he felt and translating over to what we were doing out there. We'll have help from him, and we can talk to Todd if we need to find something out about the trucks. I think we'll be all right."

DAVID RAGAN-6-Roush Racing Ford F-150 - THIS IS THE SECOND DAY OF TESTING AND THE ROUSH TRUCKS ARE ONCE AGAIN AT THE TOP OF THE SPEED CHARTS. WITH A YOUNG PAIR OF DRIVERS BEHIND THE WHEEL, IS THIS A SURPRISE? "Not really. We might be rookie drivers, but we've got a veteran team around us. John Quinn (crew chief, No. 99) and Mike Beam (crew chief, No. 6), they work real hard to make these trucks fast. It 's pretty easy for Erik and I to come down here and get in them and have some fun. We're definitely happy to be here and look forward to a good year this year with these guys."

THIS IS YOUR FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO GET IN FIRST-RATE EQUIPMENT. COMMENT ON THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES. "Not only the equipment, but the people around me. That means a lot. I have a lot of confidence in Mike Beam as the crew chief, and I think we're going to work real good together. Yes, I have had some good experience and some bad experience over the last year and a half, but I think it will all pay off this year. We've got some awesome race trucks and we'll keeping working hard, and we'll be ready to go sometime real soon."

THE WINDS HAVE PICKED UP CONSIDERABLY TODAY. IS IT HAVING AN IMPACT WITH THE TRUCKS ON THE TRACK? "This is probably the first time that I've felt it this drastic, and I believe that driving a truck makes it just that much more drastic. Down here in an ARCA car, you don't feel a lot of it, but definitely today, you feel a good bit on entry into three and into one, and that's something that we have to work around, but it's not too bad."

HOW MUCH HAS IT HELPED HAVING MARK MARTIN AND TODD KLUEVER HERE? "That's helped a ton. To have someone like Todd and Mark here that have both raced here before definitely will help Erik and me both. Mark can get in and he knows the feel of different shocks and spring combinations. He knows what to do and we're very fortunate to have someone like him on our side. That's something that every guy on the team, including us as drivers can learn from, and Mark running the truck yesterday helped us out a lot, and I think it will all pay off when we come back down here in February."

YOU ARE NOT TECHNICALLY A ROOKIE IN THIS SERIES BECAUSE YOU HAVE RACED IN 10 TRUCK RACES, BUT YOU ALSO HAVE BUSCH SERIES EXPERIENCE. HOW ARE THE TWO RACE VEHICLES DIFFERENT ON THE TRACK? "I've got four Busch starts. I ran three Busch races last year and one Busch race two years ago. In a Busch car, it's a little bit more of a type of vehicle where you can go out and hustle it and overdrive it at times, where a truck has a lot to do with momentum. You've got to stay in the throttle, be smooth and stay off the brakes. There's definitely some difference there and Mark will even tell you that. But, it's a race vehicle and we're going to get out there and have a good time and keep it in one piece and try to come back down here in February."

WITH THE TRUCKS BEING LESS FORGIVING, DOES THAT MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR A YOUNG DRIVER THAT IS TRYING TO MAKE A NAME? "It's definitely less forgiving, and someone like Mike Beam on the radio reminding me that is probably going to be the number one thing to help me out this year. We've got some good race trucks and I think they're going to handle well and that makes things pretty easy for a driver. It's tough coming to a race track and not having a good truck and you're having to overdrive it just to keep up. I'm looking forward to going to a race track, being comfortable and being fast at the same time."

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON? "Definitely to win some races. I think I'm capable as a driver to come and win a race or two. I've got the equipment. If I'm talking to you this time again next year and we didn't win a couple of races in 2006, I'll be disappointed."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Erin Crocker , Kraig Kinser , David Ragan , Todd Kluever , Aric Almirola , Joey Miller , Robert Richardson Jr. , Mark Martin
Teams HART