This Week in Ford Racing April 5, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, knew he had some big shoes to fill when he took over driving duties in one of Jack Roush's Craftsman Truck Series entries...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 5, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, knew he had some big shoes to fill when he took over driving duties in one of Jack Roush's Craftsman Truck Series entries this season. Greg Biffle drove the No. 50 Ford F-150 to the championship in 2000, and Roush Racing is the winningest truck series organization with 36 victories among seven different drivers. Kluever, who enters this weekend's fourth race of the season at Martinsville 24th in the point standings, shared his thoughts about the start of the season and the allure of driving for Jack Roush.
TODD KLUEVER-50-World Financial Group Ford F-150
YOU HAVE BEEN COMPETITIVE AT THE START OF EACH RACE THIS SEASON, BUT BAD LUCK HAS SEEMED TO PLAGUE YOUR FINISHES. "We have not had any luck. I think there might be a curse on us Wisconsin guys here at Roush. I don't think the 17 Cup car is having any luck either. We've been good everywhere. I think we kind of showed that we can be competitive by qualifying well and running well when we get to run. I was really disappointed about Atlanta. We had such an awesome truck there and never got to show it. We ran good at California and that was the only race that we've gotten to finish so far. We ran good there and had a really good truck at Daytona. We tested Martinsville and had a pretty good truck there, and I know it will be better when we go back. It's been quite a roller-coaster season so far for us, but we'll get it smoothed out, and once we get to where we can just start finishing these races we'll be running in the front."
IS IT ANY CONSOLATION KNOWING THAT YOU'VE HAD FAST TRUCKS? "There's some consolation there. It would be real bad if we went out and we were struggling and qualifying 20th or 30th and running in the back and still not finishing races. It's only been three races this season and we had one wreck and one engine overheat. When we didn't have any problems we finished fourth, we qualified in the top 10 twice, and twice in three races we've been the highest qualifying Ford. We've got a really good team. John Monsam is really good as my crew chief and our Ford F-150s have been good, and it is some consolation, but we're all here to run good and win races."
YOU ARE SCHEDULED TO MAKE YOUR FIRST START AT MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND, BUT YOUR TEAMMATE, RICKY CRAVEN, HAS EXPERIENCED SUCCESS THERE IN THE PAST. HAS HE BEEN A VALUABLE ASSET HEADING INTO THIS RACE? "We tested there. I spent two days there and he was there for one day, but I leaned on him quite a bit as far as helping me get adapted to the track. That place is really hard as a new driver coming in to get adapted to. You have the tendency to really overdrive truck. He spent a lot of time helping me with that, and he's just a phenomenal teammate and I couldn't have asked for anybody better as far as helping me out being new to the series and new to Roush Racing. I know he's new to the organization as well, but he's been in this NASCAR game for a long time. He's had a lot of success there in the Busch and Cup series, and they were really fast with their truck at the Martinsville test. I think some of the information that they learned will find its way over to us, which I think will make us better."
IS BEING TEAMED WITH A VETERAN THIS SEASON THE BEST SCENARIO FOR YOU? "Absolutely. There is so much that he has helped me with this year as far me personally. It's just because he has so much experience at these places. If I was in a situation where there were two rookies here, or any other kind of different situation, I think it would be so much harder for us to learn and run competitively right off the bat. Before we went to Daytona he helped me so much that I can't even put it into words. Just for him to help me get my season started off right so that when we went down there we could be competitive was a big bonus. That really set the stage. Even though we had a disastrous Daytona, it was good to go out and be fast and be competitive and show the guys on my team and all of the guys here at Roush Racing and at the shop that we can run good. It was just a good bonus to start the season off being competitive, and that all comes from the experience that he has and has helped me with. It's the ideal situation."
JACK ROUSH HAS GROOMED SEVERAL OF HIS DRIVERS IN THE TRUCK SERIES. WITH THE FIRST FOUR RACES BEING COMPANION EVENTS WITH NEXTEL CUP, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO TALK WITH HIM MUCH? "We have talked quite a bit. He's made sure that I know that even though it hasn't been a very stellar season for us that he doesn't blame me for any of it. They were just situations that happen. We had a couple of wrecks at Daytona that he told me weren't my fault, and at a place like Atlanta where you're going so fast, a tear-off that completely blocks your grille will cook the engine in about a lap. I think he's still behind me 100 percent, but if I mess up he'll tell me that, too. Things are good between he and I. We sat down and talked and we had the talk about making sure you have a truck that can finish the race before you worry about how good you're going to finish. You have to save your stuff and make sure that you're there at the end of the race. We had all those talks, and we need to make sure some of them start happening now."
HOW MUCH PRESSURE IS THERE TO PERFORM ALMOST IMMEDIATELY WHEN YOU JOIN AN ORGANIZATION LIKE ROUSH RACING? "There is a lot of pressure. Any time you're in a situation like this you feel as a driver that you either have to perform or you're going to be going away. They've been really supportive of me here and Geoff (Smith, president of Roush Racing) made it pretty clear to me that he's going to give me ample time to get everything sorted out, and it's not going to be a situation where after the fifth race if we're 20th in points that I'm going to be out of here. He's made it clear that I'm going to have ample time to learn my way through the truck series, and I think the more and more we do that, the more and more we prove to people that we're competitive each week and we just haven't had that much luck."
HAVE YOU HAD DISCUSSIONS WITH ANY OF ROUSH'S NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS AT THE START OF THE SEASON? "I talked to Mark Martin earlier today; I needed a little bit of advice. When you have teammates like I do, who better to call than Mark Martin? It's the perfect situation for me. I get to have the cream of the crop right here that I can use at my disposal to help me, and they're all willing to do that. There really would be no better situation for me. This opportunity is probably the best one that I could ever hoped for and the best one that could even be given to me or anybody else. It's the ideal situation."