This Week in Ford Racing April 26, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 F-150, is eager to return to Gateway International Raceway this weekend, the sight of his first of four wins in the 2002 Craftsman ...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 26, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 F-150, is eager to return to Gateway International Raceway this weekend, the sight of his first of four wins in the 2002 Craftsman Truck Series campaign. The 10-year Craftsman Truck Series veteran is currently 10th in the point standings, 135 points out of the lead, heading into Saturday night's race at the 1.25-mile oval. Cook commented on the participation of veteran NASCAR drivers in the truck series and the credibility that they bring to the series during a break in testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
TERRY COOK-10-Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l Ford F-150
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU HEAR THE TRUCK SERIES REFEREED TO AS THE SENIORS TOUR? "I can understand why they're calling it that because it seems like after drivers finish out their Nextel Cup careers that they seem to find a home in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. But, The Seniors Tour?, No way. When you hear the phrase The Seniors Tour, you think about golf and there is a minimum age limit before you can even play there. Here, we don't care. We don't discriminate, you can be 18 or you can be 55, it doesn't matter. I guess I'm not too fond of people referring to it as The Seniors Tour, but all I can say is that if they want to refer to it as that, I'd put any of the senior drivers in this series up against anybody in the Nextel Cup Series because I still believe that every one of them that is racing today can still get the job done."
THERE HAS BEEN CRITICISM OF CUP DRIVERS COMPETING PART-TIME IN THE BUSCH SERIES. DO YOU FORESEE ANY ISSUES WITH CUP DRIVERS COMPETING IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "I think it adds another level of excitement to our series. The best way that I can illustrate that is with Mark Martin and the amount of excitement that he's already drumming up next year for the Craftsman Truck Series. There are a lot of Mark Martin fans out there, so every one of those Mark Martin fans is going to follow him from the Nextel Cup Series to the Craftsman Truck Series. The same thing happened this year with Ricky Craven, and it happened when Bobby Hamilton came on board and Ted Musgrave and Jimmy Spencer. Those fans followed them to the Craftsman Truck Series and you've seen in the last two years, and especially this season alone, an explosion of fanfare in the truck series. People are following it a lot more closely and people saying it's the best racing going. My response is that it was that way back in '95 and you're just seeing it for the first time because, again, they're following their favorite drivers over. I'm a big fan of those guys coming over and racing with us weekly because I think it helps elevate our program weekly, and when you can race with those guys competitively and beat them, then you've beaten what I feel is the best in the business. I like it."
YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED SUCCESS AT GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, WINNING THERE IN 2002. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING BACK THERE THIS WEEKEND? "I'm very excited to head back out there this weekend. Any track that you've run at in the past where you've been successful, whether or not you've even won there, but we felt like we had a good race there and I'm excited about going back. Every time that I've been to Gateway I've run well and I just enjoy racing at that track. It's a driver's track where you've got to be on the wheel, yet you have to have rhythm and finesse to get around there. There are typically a lot of long green-flag runs and it seems like every time we go there you'll cycle through at least one green-flag stop during the race, so you just have to be on your game for a long run. I enjoy going there and we're on the heels of two top-10s and I can't think of a better way to turn this program up a notch and get us up in the top five. I can't sit here and say that I can promise us a win at Gateway, but I feel like we've done some things during the last couple weeks to prepare for Gateway. The Yates-Roush motor department has been working great and we're taking a brand-new truck that's got a brand-new Jerry Painter body on it. Everybody at Ford Racing and everybody at the Power Stroke Diesel race team has been committed to moving this program to the next level and I feel like Gateway can be that place for us because it's a place that I like and we're prepared heavily for it."
THERE IS LESS DOWNTIME AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON THIS YEAR COMPARED TO THE PAST FEW SEASONS. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE SCHEDULING THIS YEAR? "We're definitely moving in the right direction. I think, to revise the schedule if I could, and everybody has a different opinion on the schedule, but in my perfect world, I still think that we have a little bit too much of a break early in the season. To send us from Daytona on a Friday night to California for a Friday night race, that's kind of tough. Maybe we could have a week break in between there, and not as big of a break in between the races early. And then at the tail end of the season, we're going to race four weeks in a row from coast to coast again. So, trying to get out of those coast-to-coast, back-to-back weeks would be something I'd push for. The Craftsman Truck Series is a smaller deal as far as pay scale over here, and to put an extra burden on these race teams to travel back and forth from coast to coast is probably not the best thing to do when you're only racing for a half million dollar purse to start with."
PART OF THE DRAW TO THE SERIES FOR OLDER DRIVERS IS THE NUMBER OF RACES. IS 25 RACES ENOUGH FOR THIS SERIES? "To answer your question, yes, but from a personal standpoint, no. I'm a racer at heart and if we could race 30 races a year or 28, I'd be satisfied. I can remember a few years back when we raced a 27-race schedule and that was a good number. They trimmed it back a little bit to 25, but I think the biggest thing we need to concentrate on in the Craftsman Truck Series is that before we start adding races, we need to get the pay scale up. We need to start racing for bigger purses. It costs us on the average the same amount of money per weekend to operate a Craftsman Truck Series team as it does a Busch Series team, yet we're racing for half of the money everywhere we go. ppc Racing fields two Busch teams and one truck team so I feel very confident that I know what I'm talking about, and when we get our paychecks at the end of the race weekend, it's to the point where we need to start asking the question. I think we need to get the pay scale up before we start adding any races."
DO YOU FEEL THAT BIGGER PURSES SHOULD BE A BYPRODUCT OF HAVING NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS IN THE RACES? "I think if these new speedways have to capacity to put 70,000 people in the grandstands, and when you start adding Ricky Craven, Mark Martin and all of the other NEXTEL Cup drivers that we have coming down, those fans think they have a Nextel Cup race there. And, we know that the Craftsman Truck Series provides great racing. If we get the fan count up to 70,000, then why can't the promoter up the purse value? We don't need to be racing for Martinsville-type pay money at all of these new facilities. We need to be racing for the Daytona-style purses, and I think when guys like Mark Martin get involved in this series, that brings more credibility and it allows the promoter to put more people in the stands and maybe give us a little bit more at the end of the day. The bottom line is that I just don't feel that we should be racing for half the amount of purse that the Busch Series races for."