RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 2nd) DID THE WEATHER PLAY A PART IN YOUR LAP? "I think it helped, yes. Had the sun stayed out it would have helped us even more, but of all the places we race, the starting position is probably as ...
RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 2nd)
DID THE WEATHER PLAY A PART IN YOUR LAP?
"I think it helped, yes. Had the sun stayed out it would have helped us even more, but of all the places we race, the starting position is probably as irrelevant here as anywhere because after 30 laps there will be the haves and the have nots. The cars the run well for 60 laps will separate themselves from the cars that aren't running well after lap 30. I say that because we qualifying fortysomething (41st) in the spring and finished fifth, but there's got to be an easier way of doing things. Hopefully this is the start of it."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAR?
"This is the car we ran at Indianapolis and Pocono, which were both top 10s, and it's a good car. I've got to tell you, though, all of the Tide Fords are good quality. What some of you may not know is that we're building our own cars and I think the team deserves a lot of credit for that. That's part of what Cal has instituted when he began Winston Cup racing. He suffered along for a while, but now it's paying off."
YOU'VE BEEN STRONG THE LAST 6 TO 8 WEEKS WITH YOUR POLE AND WIN.
"Certainly it helped and the fact that they've backed it up. I think the team is peaking when a lot of other teams are getting tired or perhaps wondering what their plans are for next year, but we just continue to get stronger and stronger. That's why we're getting the results we're getting."
DID ANY OF THE FORD TEAMS COME AND ASK YOU FOR HELP TODAY?
"Not yet, but that might change tomorrow. Mike Beam and Roy McCauley have done a fantastic job. I think the three of us just make a great team. We've got great people that work on the car. They're very thorough, but the discussions between the three of us have been a big bonus for me, compared to what I've had in the past. We changed two springs, a right-front shock, the rear role center -- those are the things I know about. There are probably three or four other things they didn't tell me about before qualifying. I think that's a good illustration of how good this team has become, to have the confidence to make those kind of changes between the end of practice and qualifying."
WERE THOSE CHANGES BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER?
"Actually, the changes were because we stunk the last time out. We just weren't running that well. We came off the trailer and ran our fastest lap and then proceeded to go backwards. We just sort of needed to regroup and that's what the guys did."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
"My expectations are obviously high. Statistically, this is one of my best, perhaps my best. Sometimes those expectations get you in trouble and sometime they prepare you for a letdown, but in this case because of the timing, I think we're a very real threat on Sunday because this team is really, really working. Our pit stops are great. Our decisions on pit road are great and I'm having the time of my life. I'm sure you guys get tired of hearing me say that, but I mean it -- I'm having a great time. I think that's a pretty powerful thing when you can enjoy what you're doing."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO STEVE PARK SINCE HIS INJURY?
"I've actually talked to Steve's mom and I think Steve is a perfect example of how to handle things. I was probably an example of how not to handle things. The urgency to get back in your car always exists. I think there's the difficulty of not racing, but it's compounded by seeing somebody else in your car -- that insecurity you have as a race car driver because you worked so hard to get to that point. It's just very difficult to be home on Sundays, but I can assure you that he will be back and when he comes back he will pick up where he left off. That's critical."
DID YOU ADVISE STEVE'S MOM AT ALL ON HOW TO HANDLE THIS SITUATION?
"I haven't encouraged them at all. Actually, I just complimented them because I endorse how they're handling it and how they're thinking. I think part of Steve's strength is that his family is with him. There's no greater guidance in your life than your mom and I've got a pretty good idea that Steve's doing what his mom tells him to do and that's exactly what he needs to be doing."
DO YOU HEAR THINGS IN THE GARAGE AREA ABOUT STEVE, SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEAR ABOUT YOURSELF?
"Yeah, the only thing that is the frustrating side of this business is that when you're absent, there's a lot of speculation. I remember hearing so many things from friends on Monday and Tuesday because I wasn't at the race track, and I wasn't at the race track because it was too painful. It was miserable being at the race track and see your team carry on without you having a presence. I truly believe that he's not here because he's focussed on getting healthy, but compounded by the fact that just being here is very, very frustrating without your helmet. I've heard some ridiculous statements that come with being absent -- just that speculation. I feel that Steve Park will be back, 100 percent healthy, but I can't say when or where no more than anybody else."