The Ford Racing trio of Ricky Craven, Todd Kluever, and Rick Crawford shared their thoughts on the outcome of the two-day Craftsman Truck Series test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Daytona 250. RICKY ...
The Ford Racing trio of Ricky Craven, Todd Kluever, and Rick Crawford shared their thoughts on the outcome of the two-day Craftsman Truck Series test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Daytona 250.
RICKY CRAVEN-99-Superchips Ford F-150
WHAT IS YOUR OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE TEST SESSION? "It's been two productive days. There's more focus towards race environment than qualifying environment. The trucks are new to me and my first impression is that they're a lot of fun to drive. It's definitely different from the cars. There's less emphasis on qualifying. The trucks recover so quickly and here at Daytona there's still a premium on handling. You wouldn't think so with the big spoiler, but there is."
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TRUCKS AND THE CARS IN THE DRAFT? "The biggest difference between the two is the drag. The trucks have a lot more resistance through the air than a car, and it changes how they drive and how they act around other vehicles. It's a very good package, though. I like it. I think it's the best Daytona package that I've ever had because you have options. You can get in trouble, get out of the gas and recover from it, and recover from it within a lap. The truck is comfortable overall. There are a few spots where you're vulnerable, I think because there is an abundance of downforce if you're running by yourself. But then when you get mixed in with other trucks and you put yourself in some situations you lose so much of that downforce so quickly. The margins between the maximum downforce and what you might have with a truck on the outside of you, it creates some challenges. But, I like the fact that they are very stable in line. They're a bit tricky in a pack because that will create some separation, so the drivers in good-handling trucks will separate themselves from the trucks that aren't as comfortable, and the last time I checked that's why we do this."
DO YOU EXPECT THE TRUCK RACE TO BE THE MOST EXCITING RACE OF SPEED WEEKS GIVEN THE RULES PACKAGE? "Well, we've had a lot of exciting Cup races, and there's no question that there are aspects of restrictor-plate racing that drivers don't enjoy. One thing you can't argue is the quality of racing. >From a fan's perspective it's quite awesome. I like the fact it's a little more predictable over here in the trucks. With the low horsepower in a Cup car and the cars having less resistance, they were packed in 35 to 40-car groups the entire race. I don't think that will be the case here. I think you'll see that separation, which will still produce some quality racing, but it will be a little more comfortable for the drivers. There's still plenty of opportunity to get in trouble in these trucks."
WE'VE SEEN A NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS HERE IN TESTING. DOES THE NUMBER OF INCIDENTS SURPRISE YOU FOR A TEST? "We're here to experiment, evaluate and test and sometimes that comes at a price. I'm sure that whatever those circumstances were that they learned something from it. It wasn't what they came here to learn, but that is part of what we do. But, I'm not surprised. These things become very difficult if you put yourself in the wrong set of circumstances, and that's what I spent two days doing. I spent two days just moving around trying to figure out how my F-150 runs behind the other manufacturers, and how it runs with a group in line or with a truck on my right side. All of those things are a little bit different, and that's the catching up that I have to do. I've got to acclimate myself to these trucks in short order."
WITH THE TRUCK BEING SO NEW TO YOU, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO USE TODD KLUEVER TO COMPARE NOTES? "He's been a big help to me because he's been cooperative. He's here to learn, so we've done a lot of drafting here together. We ran 700 miles before Christmas at Talladega. That was really cool. That was really good for the team to get 700 miles in before 2004 ended, and it was good for him also. Then we came here and we've logged a lot of miles and that will only help. I think the team has gathered a lot of information and they'll make use of that back at the shop. I think coming back here in February, handling will prevail and judgment will prevail."
TODD KLUEVER-50-Shell ROTELLA T Ford F-150
WHAT IS YOUR OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE TEST SESSION? "I think it's gone really well. Today has been excellent for us. I wasn't real comfortable last night when the sun went down, but we worked on it and it's driving really good today and I'm really happy with it. I think it's been a good test and we're looking forward to coming back."
HOW MUCH OF AN ASSET HAS RICKY CRAVEN BEEN THIS WEEK? "Ricky's been phenomenal. We spent a lot of time in drafting stuff just getting different feels of what my truck is going to do when other trucks are around me in certain positions and him placing his truck around me. He's been helping try to learn the ins and outs of building momentum around the high banks and how to make a run on the other trucks. He's helped me even more off the race track with my personal affairs and getting down here. He's just a class-act guy."
YOU TESTED AT TALLADEGA IN DECEMBER, SO THIS ISN'T YOUR FIRST TIME IN THE DRAFT, BUT IS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED? "It's pretty much like I expected it, but it's a lot greater here. There's more trucks, there's more good trucks, and fast trucks teamed with fast trucks go even faster. It's taken a little bit to get used to, but it's not that bad."
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY BREATH-TAKING MOMENTS HERE DURING THE TEST? "When Regan Smith hit the wall last night, I was running right behind him for about 10 laps until two laps before he wrecked. That's really one of those wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time situations. I wasn't out there when the Big One happened last night with Sprague, Musgrave and Cook, but I was real close to Regan when he went in the wall."
ARE YOU ONE OF THE DRIVERS THAT PLAYS VIDEO GAMES TO TRY TO ADAPT TO NEW RACING VENUES, AND HAS THAT HELPED YOU HERE THIS WEEKEND? "I do play a few video games, but I haven't played any recently because of the move and I don't have all of my stuff set up yet. At a place like this, I don't think there's very much to learn. They can never really simulate the draft in a video game, I guess. Some of the smaller places we go there's a lot that's the same. You can at least get a feel for what the race track is shaped like and what it looks like from inside the cockpit because they're pretty realistic. Usually they help out."
WERE YOU SURPRISED YESTERDAY HOW EARLY IN THE SESSION TRUCKS WERE DRAFTING WITH ONE ANOTHER? "I really wasn't surprised and that was our plan right away, too, to go out and start drafting. With the impound rule it's so critical to make your truck drive good in race trim. It really makes the single-car runs not nearly as important anymore because you're never by yourself except in qualifying and you can qualify bad here and still have a good race. I knew that most people would just want to concentrate on race stuff."
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150
WHAT IS YOUR OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE TEST SESSION? "I think it went very well, especially yesterday afternoon. Our single runs looked pretty good and we were real racy in the draft. The F-150 did a good job and so did everyone on the Circle Bar Truck Corral team. We're all trying to get back in the swing of things. We were reading data off of the truck and I've got my fab guys here working on the body and they've done a good job building a special Daytona piece here. We won this race in '03 and Cowboy (Kevin Starland) won it in '04, and now we're together, so let's win it together."
YOU LOGGED 75 LAPS TODAY AND FINISHED NEAR THE TOP OF THE LIST FOR LAPS COMPLETED. WAS THAT PART OF YOUR GAME PLAN? "No, it wasn't the plan to run the most laps. We wanted to make the Ford fast, and if that's what it takes - track time - that's the best dyno in the world. The plan worked out and we knew what cost us a little time and we knew what helped us on the watch and what made it drive good. If that's what it took, that's why we're together here. We want to win, and if that takes track time then that's what we're here for."
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE NUMBER OF TRUCKS THAT WERE WRECKED HERE THIS WEEKEND IN A TEST SESSION? "No, I'm not. You might view this as race conditions, but this is not the race, and some people were out there racing. I'm here testing to see how I can improve my F-Series pickup when it comes back. But, there are some out here that want to win practice and will go to any extreme to win and there are a lot of trucks out here that are unstable and they're going to have work on them some."
WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW EARLY IN THE SESSION TRUCKS WERE DRAFTING YESTERDAY? "That surprised me. That surprised me not really knowing what you've got by yourself. Qualifying is not really important here, and I don't think I've qualified in the top 20. I've run good here, and that's what's important, to make sure you race good and make sure you have something to race with. But, you also have to have something for the end."
DID THE RAIN HAVE AN EFFECT WITH THE EARLY-SESSION INCIDENTS LAST NIGHT? "It could have. There were probably some people that were sitting around here and got ready to go, and they've got new jobs and new trucks and new crews and new crew chiefs, but we stuck to our plan and I'm proud of Cowboy and all of the staff at Circle Bar Racing to give me something good to drive, and hopefully we can show our performance and win some races and maybe a championship."