Crawford hopes return to Martinsville continues building momentum
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 20, 2004) -- Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) holds strong opinions about what it takes to excel at Martinsville Speedway, which hosts Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 200.
And as winner of April's Kroger 250, he's entitled to make a point or two about the flat, .526-mile track that received a new coat of asphalt since the series' last visit.
"Martinsville is a place where you can make things happen and the driver has a lot to do with control," said Crawford. "You'd better be on top of your game, especially in the right mind set.
"Mentally being prepared for Martinsville is (saying) 'I'm going to a short track where I can make things happen,' and I'm looking forward to that as a driver."
Crawford definitely was on top of his game in the spring despite driving with a broken right foot. Two-time Martinsville winner Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet) tried in vain to overhaul Crawford's Ford and the charge resulted in the series' closest finish (.365 of a second) at the fabled short track.
"I looked at it like it was just another race," said Crawford, who was injured a month earlier at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Crawford likely puts this week's 200-lap, 105.2-mile event into the same category. The 46-year-old veteran of 193 series races holds his emotions in check, good race or bad. Still, Crawford seeks to carry the momentum of a seventh-place finish in Texas, his first top 10 since early August. Crawford ranked as high as third in the standings before a late-summer slide dropped the Alabama competitor to 12th. However, he's just 40 points behind 10th-place Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) entering the 22nd of 25 scheduled events.
"I think the team sort of forgot about the victory at Martinsville and we just kind of have to turn the whole season back around," said Crawford, a top-10 championship finisher in each of the past three seasons." "I feel proud to say that we've at least won a race in 2004 but being in a slump is not successful. I'm proud of my guys for hanging in there and sticking through this situation that we're in to figure it out. I mean, we dug ourselves a hole as a team and we're digging out."