Charlotte: Ricky Craven preview

HICKORY, NC (May 25, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, finished third in the Coca-Cola 600 two years ago. Craven also celebrated his birthday on Monday, May 24th, so a win at the Coca-Cola 600 would be a great belated ...

HICKORY, NC (May 25, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, finished third in the Coca-Cola 600 two years ago. Craven also celebrated his birthday on Monday, May 24th, so a win at the Coca-Cola 600 would be a great belated birthday present for him and the Tide Racing team.

Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet:

Does running the All-Star Challenge weekend help as test session for the Coca-Cola 600?

"It is a big asset running the All-Star weekend as an extra test session for the 600, but on the other hand, it is big for everyone. The margin is the same. If you don't capitalize on the All-Star race in terms of a test and an opportunity to gain speed, then you've given up or created a deficit to the competition. It can be an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage if you don't capitalize on the opportunity."

Would you say the Coca-Cola 600 is the toughest race of the year since it is the longest?

"The race is at night and obviously the longest race we run, so there is some endurance involved in it, but I wouldn't say it is the toughest race on the circuit. Personally, I feel the most challenging races of the year are Martinsville and Bristol."

From a driver's perspective, what goes into preparation for running an additional 100 miles, during the Coca-Cola 600?

"We've run a dozen races so far this year and are testing what seems like every week, so you're prepared for it physically. I load up starting on Wednesdays with fluids and continuing to re-hydrate during the races is the ticket to being there at the end."

Why is the Coca-Cola 600 such a favorite race of all the competitors?

"The 600 has always been one of my favorite races. I like the race, this week, this month, because you are home a lot. It's a very exciting atmosphere as a lot of friends and a lot people that are part of the Tide Racing team get to come to the track to watch the race. I always single this month out as one of the most enjoyable on the schedule. Also, the race itself is very important --- The 600, along with the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, you single out and say, 'if you can win one of these races, it's big.' Two years ago we were close. We ran good enough to win, but fell short at the end and it made us hungrier. It is still hard to enjoy that because we were so close."

"My first 600, in 1995, we were running sixth or seventh and dropped a valve around lap 525. It seems like on this race on mile 500, it is taboo for whoever is leading. It's historically always worked against that person. You can go look through year after year of the drivers that have led on mile 500 and they have some sort of problem...they find a way to lose. That day, we ended up dropping a valve, but still finished 10th. As badly as I'd like to have 2002 over again, where I only needed two spots, my first Coca-Cola 600 is one I'd like to have back again because I felt like we were destined to be top-five."

Dave Charpentier, crew chief of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet:

From a team perspective, what goes into preparing a car for running an additional 100 miles for the Coca-Cola 600?

"Basically, there is more wear and tear from a drive train perspective than from a car and chassis perspective. We'll race several thousand miles before we have to replace chassis components, but the drive trains - transmissions, gears, engines - it is a real strain on those. For the most part, everyone is geared to making these things last for 500 miles. The single engine rule has helped a lot because we practice, qualify and race with the same engine all weekend so now everyone is working with a 750-mile package. You turn a lot of RPMs here as the temperatures drop through the evening typically the track gets better and faster, you'll see a lot of engine, gear and transmission problems probably. But from a chassis and setup perspective, it is not a lot different from a 500-mile race."

"It's long, there are a lot of pit stops, so pit strategy becomes more of a factor. A lot of cautions and it can go on long into the night, so we start with the track fairly slick, not much grip, cars sliding around a lot. One of the most difficult parts preparation-wise is making sure you have a setup that will run well at night when the temperatures goes down and the track gets better and it still runs well enough in the sun during the heat of the evening to stay competitive so you can go racing the last 100 to 150 miles. Charlotte is a very weather sensitive race track, unlike Dover or some of the other places we run are not. Nearly impossible to have a setup that works well in the heat of the day and will work well after it gets dark after the track drops 40 or 50 degrees. Everyone knows when the track is hot, the track is going to have less grip, the cars are going to be lose and sliding around getting into the corner. It's a handful for the drivers for the first 150 to 200 miles and the driver has to adjust mentally to hang onto a racecar on a slick race track so that we can have a setup under it that we can race into the night with."

Chassis No. 42: The Tide Racing team is taking Chassis No. 42 to Charlotte this weekend. This is the same car they competed with earlier this year at Las Vegas.

Team Notes: The Tide Racing team's Jackman, Eric Wilson, drives in the Goody's Dash Series. He competed last weekend in the race prior to the All-Star events and finished third.

Appearances: Craven will make many appearances in Charlotte during the week prior to the Coca-Cola 600:

Wednesday, May 26th: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Kmart located at 545 Concord Parkway North in Concord, NC.

Thursday, May 27th: 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the Action Performance Pit Stop Store, 6031 Performance Drive, Concord, NC.

Friday, May 28th: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Hendrick Motorsports 20th Anniversary Festival in Concord, NC.

Friday, May 28th: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Tide Booth at the SpeedStreet Festival held in Uptown Charlotte, NC.

Friday, May 28th: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Chevrolet Stage at the SpeedStreet Festival held in Uptown Charlotte, NC.

Saturday, May 29th: approximately 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Tide Souvenir Rig. Please check with the souvenir rig in advance for ticket distribution.

Team Fun: Craven's birthday was Monday, May 24th and he celebrated it with his Tide Racing team on Sunday, May 23rd. Craven hosted his annual LobsterFest for all PPI Motorsports employees. The day started off with a softball game between the road crew and the shop crew. And despite the shop crew sneaking in some practice sessions on their lunch breaks at work, the road crew was triumphant with a score of 22-18. Craven served as the pitcher for both teams. The softball game was followed by a cookout where Craven flew in lobsters from Maine. Afterwards, the team shared birthday cake with Craven.


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ricky Craven