This Week in Ford Racing
May 10, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 Ford F-150, has over 200 consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts to his credit, and has first-hand experience of the evolution of the series throughout its 10-year existence. Crawford, who posted his first top-five finish of the season in St. Louis two weeks ago, shared his thoughts on the progress of his team and the progression of the series.
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150
HAS THIS TEAM TURNED THE CORNER WITH THE TOP-FIVE FINISH IN ST. LOUIS TWO WEEKS AGO? "It was just a matter of time. I think we had one of the quickest trucks at Daytona, we ran well at California until the late stages of the race; we had to make up a lap under green, which we were able to do. We ran excellent at Atlanta, we just couldn't close the deal. We went to Martinsville and just had sour luck, and finally broke through with a solid top-five finish at St. Louis. But, we ended the day second in practice. We knew we had a good truck, but we drew first to go out to qualify and I think that puts you behind all day to have to come from 19th to the front. I think it was a successful night. We needed that kind of result, but we're still better than that and we know we are. We've got new equipment here, we've got a new crew chief, we've got basically a new team and this team is on time. I'm enjoying going to the race track again. I'm enjoying driving a competitive truck, and when we reach victory lane here pretty quick I don't think they're going to be able to keep us out."
THIS SEASON STARTED OFF WITH THREE SPEEDWAY EVENTS FOLLOWED BY THREE SHORT-TRACK EVENTS. WHICH TYPE OF TRACK DO YOUR PREFER? "I like the big tracks and I'm not going to pull any punches about it. I like them all basically. This is racing. This is big-time truck racing and this is NASCAR and it doesn't matter if we run all big tracks or all short tracks, I like every race track because it's competitive. But, if you were to ask me which ones I like the best, I like the big tracks. I want to showcase my talent to get across the fence to get to the Cup Series maybe one day and can enjoy a little bit of that, but if that doesn't happen, no problem. You can showcase a lot of stuff on a big track. You can showcase your talent, the engine's performance and your team. Having the pedal down, whoever stays on the gas the longest is going to win, and that's what I like about the big tracks."
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SERIES OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS WHERE THE TRUCKS HAVE VISITED THE NEWER VENUES AND HAS BECOME MORE A OF COMPANION SERIES? "I think that's what we needed. The biggest thing we needed was for Craftsman to come in and be the sole sponsor of the series for 10 years. They hung in there with us and we're a great series, and just like at St. Louis, we can stand on our own; we had a great crowd there. You've also got the manufacturers' involvement now. Ford thinks it's important to beat Dodge, Chevy and Toyota, which it is. We race on Friday and Saturday and sell it on Monday. We're just trying to get our performance up and get in victory lane and we can sell more pickups."
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU HEAR SOMEONE REFER TO THE SERIES AS 'THE SENIORS TOUR?' "I came up with that. I said that the first time to Darrell Waltrip when he retired from Cup racing and he wanted to come and drive a pickup. I said, 'Welcome to The Seniors Tour.' I'm proud to be part of The Seniors Tour. Look at the veterans the other night. I think the top six finishers in St. Louis were veterans. We still have the experience, we still have the sharp ability and the physical ability to perform on the race track, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is probably the toughest racing series out there. It makes me feel good that when drivers are coming towards the end of their careers and while they're still competitive and enjoy racing that they chose to race in this series. That's what makes the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series exciting."
IS THERE A SENSE OF PRIDE WHEN YOU HEAR CUP DRIVERS TALK ABOUT WANTING TO END THEIR NASCAR CAREERS IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "I feel proud about being part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I'm just a small part of what it takes to have a successful series. I think Tom Mitchell deserves a lot of the credit to get this team over 200 consecutive starts, but, man, what a roller coaster ride it's been. I'm sure that when Mark Martin gets to the Craftsman Truck Series he can be relaxed, he can have some fun and enjoy racing."