Ft. Worth, TX - The ...
Ft. Worth, TX - The #14 Milwaukee Electric Tool race team and driver, Rick Crawford, came to the home state of owner, Tom Mitchell, looking to make a statement. However, they did not plan on making that statement with remarkable run from the rear of the field.
After struggling during practice and qualifying on Thursday, the team made drastic changes to the setup on Friday afternoon prior to the start of the race. Aerodynamic changes that were made to the truck after a wind-tunnel test two weeks ago seemed to be the culprit. The changes hurt more than helped the handling of the truck at the second fastest speedway that the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races on.
After qualifying 29th, Crawford and crew chief, Ray Stonkus, knew they had a long night ahead of them if the adjustments they had made prior to the race did not work. Another hurdle the team knew they might face would be the possibility of getting caught up in a wreck on the way to the front. On lap 3, their worst fears came calling. An 11-truck crash unfolded just off of turn 2, and just in front of the #14 Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford. Crawford somehow came through the carnage with no major damage to the truck. "It was like the seas parted," Rick told the crew over the radio. "I should have been wrecked about three different times coming through that one."
The second major wreck came on lap 32, again, just in front of the #14 truck. This would be a break for the Circle Bar Race Team, because the left rear tire was cut and was going down. On the ensuing pit stop and green flag run, the team had made their way to the 15th position. On lap 110, the team made a stop with the leaders to get left side tires and gained three more positions to restart 11th.
On this Friday the 13th, full moon race, Crawford's luck was all good. Another disaster was avoided as the third-place truck spun out of control just in front of Rick's truck. The spinning truck took out the race truck running just ahead of Crawford, as he made evasive action to miss the wreck.
On the final sprint Rick drove as hard as he had all night to hold off several trucks with fresher tires for a 6th place finish. It was the team's second top-10 finish in a row.
A happy but mentally drained Crawford, commented after the race, "I made the comment to the crowd before the race that we had a long way to go tonight and I never would have thought at that moment that we would have finished 6th. That shows the determination of this #14 Milwaukee Electric Tool team and the never quit attitude they have. This was like a home track for us and to get a good finish after such a bad start to the weekend is awesome."
The team has finished 3rd and 6th since Ray Stonkus took over as crew chief and they look to keep their momentum going into the final race of the season. Crawford and crew still have a shot at cracking the top-ten in overall points standings as they are 72 points out of 10th and 78 points from 9th.