Crawford: From the driver's seat Rick Crawford In last week's column I touched on some of my favorite race tracks on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. At that time I didn't mention this weekend's stop -- Bristol Motor Speedway --...
Crawford: From the driver's seat Rick Crawford
In last week's column I touched on some of my favorite race tracks on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. At that time I didn't mention this weekend's stop -- Bristol Motor Speedway -- though I must say it is one of the toughest, most interesting tracks we visit. For reference's sake, as far as other tracks are concerned, Bristol is similar to few and comparable to none. It truly is one of the most unique and challenging races in our season. "The World's Fastest Half-Mile," as the track has come to be known, can not be totally appreciated on television -- you really have to come out to the track in person to feel the thunder and the excitement.
Driving at Bristol is like going on a kamikaze mission. Anything can and will happen, and if you're in line for it, it's tough to get out of the way. And that reminds me another key to success at Bristol -- you've got to be lucky.
Last year in the truck series race, I qualified 25th and finished sixth. That required a good setup, a strong motor, some driving skills and a lot of luck to dodge that many trucks on the way to the front.
When I think of any given lap at Bristol, it is hard to visualize a pass. At a track like this one, you have to be patient and attempt a pass only when an opportunity arises -- and that usually takes a while.
When I raced there in the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series back in 1996, I followed a pack of four cars for about 100 laps, then passed all of them on the same lap. That was a situation where we were all in a line and the driver in front checked up for some reason. The other three drivers all checked up in turn and I seized my first real opportunity for a pass.
That put me in second place in that race and I eventually went on to pass Conrad Burr, lead the last 50 laps or so and seal up the victory. Up until my truck series win at Homestead Motorsports Complex earlier this season, that ranked with my triumphs in the Snowball Derby as the biggest highlight of my career.
Now I return for a second race in a truck at Bristol. I can only hope that I have some luck on my side this weekend -- I honestly believe that the Circle Bar Ford team has all the other elements in place for a good finish. After five non-top-10s in a row, we can really use one.
If you're anywhere near Northeast Tennessee this weekend, come out and experience what NASCAR Craftsman Truck racing is all about. Bristol really offers the whole package of what makes our series exciting -- high speeds, close racing and a lot of action.
And if you get the chance to come out, or watch or listen at home (TV: ESPN; Syndicated Radio: NASCAR Truck Network -- 7 p.m. EDT) -- it won't hurt you to root for the light blue No. 14. "Backup" Doesn't Necessarily Mean "Back Slide" There was a situation in this past weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Michigan Speedway that made me want to bring up a point. When Dale Earnhardt was forced to go to his backup car after an accident in practice with Rusty Wallace, it reminded me that the overall strength of a team is truly measured in times of adversity.
Earnhardt was forced to start in the back of the field -- 43rd -- because he couldn't race the car he qualified in. Promptly after the green flag fell on Sunday, Dale passed about 20 cars in 20 laps. The point? It shows you why Richard Childress Racing has won all those championships -- their backup car was just as good as their primary car.
Now, after Dale passed all those cars early on, he used up a lot of his car and ran fairly modestly the rest of the afternoon, finishing 15th. It made a big impression on me, though. Consistency definitely does make a champion -- not only in an individual's performance, but also having the team build and prepare that consistently good equipment to run with.
I just wanted to thank all the people involved in last week's Greater Mobile Children's Charity event at Springdale Mall -- it was an overwhelming success. In fact, we ended up raising close to $10,000, which was nearly double our goal.
Thank you again to the local drivers and teams who came out to participate, area businesses that donated items for the auction, family and friends and the nearly 1,000 race fans that came out to support a great event. It's support like this that makes me proud to be from Mobile.
I've already started thinking about the second annual Greater Mobile Children's Charity event for 1999. I'm sure we'll all pull together to make it even bigger than this year's show.
Question of the Week
Carolyn Bolter of Theodore, Ala., asks: "How long have you been interested in writing and how did you get published so quickly?"
I bet some of my teachers would get a kick out of me writing this column. As far as how long I've been interested in writing, with the sport growing the way it has, communication has become a bigger and bigger part of my job as a race driver. Now, as compared to when I started racing professionally back in the early 1980s, there is a lot more media focus on auto racing in general and NASCAR in particular. As the sport has changed and grown, I have tried to keep up. I honestly enjoy the media relations part of our sport -- both doing interviews for radio and television and writing this column.
As far as how I got published so quickly, again that's a testament to the growth of our sport. That and a group of editors at the three newspapers that carry this column -- my hometown Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register, my sponsor's hometown Santangelo (Tex.) Standard-Times and my shop and crew's hometown White County (Ga.) News (and its sister papers) -- as well as the good people at NASCAR Online, who allow me to speak with you through this space each week. Thanks to all of them and thanks to you for continuing to read the column and write in -- this truly is my pleasure.
Rick Crawford drives the No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & R.V. Park Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. If you would like to write Rick a question to have answered in this column, please send it to Siberini Sports Services; P.O. Box 943; Harrisburg, NC 28075. Everyone who sends in a question will receive an autographed photo and be entered in a drawing for a trip for two to the Nov. 8 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in Las Vegas, which includes airfare, hotel and passes to the race, courtesy of Accommodations Plus of Athens, Texas.
Source: NASCAR Online