Willie Allen , Raybestos Rookie of the Year - No. 13 ThorSport Silverado
MODERATOR: We're pleased now to be joined by the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Congratulations goes out to the driver of the #13 ThorSport Chevrolet, that's Willie Allen. Congratulations on being named Rookie of the Year. How does it feel?
WILLIE ALLEN: It feels real good to be Rookie of the Year. Definitely it was a goal of ours at the first of the year. I think everyone who's a rookie wants to win it, especially in the Truck Series it's such a coveted honor and a lot of the guys have moved on to the Cup Series and really made a name for themselves, and I'm just glad to be in that list of drivers.
YOU HAD A GOOD SEASON. "Winning Raybestos Rookie of the Year was definitely what we set out to do when we started this season. Man, it was up and down all year long and an up and down race here tonight. We definitely didn't have the truck we wanted but we hung in there like we did all year. We kept fighting. We had a lot of mechanical problems during the year and it seemed like the more problems we had the harder the team dug. I can't thank Duke and Ronda Thorson enough, ThorSport, for giving me this opportunity. Last year I was reading gas meters in Nashville. It's just a blessing to be here. I thank Lance [Hooper, crew chief] and all the guys again for all the hard work. The city of Nashville has been a big sponsor of the team and mine this year and the National Pork Board. I really want to thank those guys."
WHAT DOES WINNING RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR MEAN TO YOU AND THIS TEAM? "Oh it's real big. A lot of the big name Cup drivers came from the Truck series and that's what we want to do. That's the main goal we set out for and we accomplished it. It was definitely a struggle but we accomplished our goal. I'm very proud of that and proud of the guys."
WHAT WAS THE MAIN THING THAT YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR? "Driving in traffic and the air and the trucks drive so much different than a car or a late model or anything. Being beside someone and learning that and learning the balance it needs from racing to qualifying and just learning the weight of the trucks. I've still got a lot more to learn but I feel like I have learned a lot."
YOU HAD A PROBLEM LATE IN THE RACE. "I was kind of sandwiched in the middle in a three-wide deal on the back straightaway [laughs]. One of the guys came in and got tires and we didn't have tires. It was on the very end of a tire run and it was so tight. That's probably the tightest truck that we've had all year. I knew we were a sitting duck. I was just trying to hold off as many as we could and just got squeezed in on the back straightaway. We were just lucky that we didn't get hit [smiles]. I spun around and come across the start-finish line with both front tires flat and it caught on fire right across the start-finish line. I don't think it could have ended more dramatic [laughs]."
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR 2008? "Definitely finish in the top-10 in points and compete for a win. We've got to get more competitive. It's not from lack of effort. Everyone is trying, just figure out what we're lacking. I know the guys are already starting to work hard for next year and just continue to do that and take what we learned from this year and go to the winter testing and hopefully go and compete in the top-10 next year."
THE MODERATOR: Willie, I think you covered the bases. I think people will understand how big this is for you. Congratulations.
-credit: gm racing