There will be a decidedly new look to the K-Automotive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racing team when it hits the track for the season-opening event at Daytona Beach, FL February 16.
In addition to having new driver Terry Cook will field Ford F-150 hardware for the upcoming season. That's big news considering that K-Automotive - Bob, Kay and Ron Keselowski - had campaigned the Dodge brand for nearly three decades.
"This is a nice coup for Ford," said Greg Specht, manager of North American Performance Operations for Ford Racing Technology.
"The Keselowskis have been one of the standard-bearers for the Craftsman Truck Series for several years and Terry Cook is an exciting driver. We've had the best teams and the best trucks in the series for the past two years and our brigade of F-150s just got a little stronger." "Ford offered us support and you need the factory behind you if you expect to do well in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," said Bob Keselowski. "They will be there to help us with any problems and answer any questions we might have. It's a great opportunity for our race team. It'll be a clean sheet of paper all over again with a lot of new challenges for us."
"It'll be a first for K-Automotive and it will be a first for me too," stated Cook of the new Ford alliance. "They've never raced Fords and neither have I. It's a fresh start for both of us."
The K-Automotive team has been one of the strongest NCTS entries since it debuted with Bob Keselowski handling the driving chores in 1995. In all, Keselowski has made 86 career NCTS starts with the highlight being a victory at Richmond, VA in 1997. Dennis Setzer took over the primary driving chores for K-Automotive in late 1998 producing five wins over the past three seasons. Also included in that run was a third-place finish in the points in 1999 and a seventh-place points effort last season.
Cook, meanwhile, debuted with the K-Automotive team last October steering his black No. 29 entry from 25th starting position to a seventh-place finish in the 2000 NCTS season finale at California Speedway. During the off-season, talks between Cook and the team continued until an agreement for the 2001 schedule was completed last December.
With the new driver and manufacturer in place, the challenge now will be to retool and get ready for the upcoming season according to Keselowski.
"We will probably convert three or four of our best trucks to Fords and build a couple of new ones as well," stated Keselowski, who runs Laughlin chassis. "We have some new ideas on a couple of things and we're anxious to try them out. There's stuff we want to try with both the chassis and the body. I don't think the conversion will be that tough to do. Fortunately, we're switching to Ford because you couldn't switch a Dodge to a Chevy. Really, the toughest thing to do will be cutting up the full fleet of great race trucks that we have. That will kind of hurt, but I know we'll be better off in the end."
"A race vehicle is a race vehicle," said Cook, who will be expected to put the K-Automotive Fords up front this season.
"I'm sure driving a Ford is going to be somewhat different than the Chevy's I've been driving in the past, but all the basic aerodynamic rules will still apply and nobody has more experience with springs, shocks and chassis than this K-Automotive bunch. Ford has had a great track record, especially the past two years winning the Truck Series Manufacturer's Championship. The goal at K-Automotive this season will be to win poles, races and do everything we can to give Ford a third title in a row."