Ricky Craven Talladege II interview

NASCAR veteran Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, collected his first Winston Cup victory last week at Martinsville. Even though this was a short week (the race at Martinsville was delayed by rain until Monday) Craven says he still...

NASCAR veteran Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Taurus, collected his first Winston Cup victory last week at Martinsville. Even though this was a short week (the race at Martinsville was delayed by rain until Monday) Craven says he still took time to savor the win.

RICKY CRAVEN-32-Tide Taurus

"We actually had three days, because we made it a priority - never with the intention of hurting our Talladega effort. But, I'll be honest with you, if it did, it did. A win is just so significant in Winston Cup that my wife and I, we were going to enjoy it. And I know the team felt the same way, and we did. We enjoyed it. We had three days of celebration."

FROM A PROFESSIONAL STANDPOINT, WHAT DOES A VICTORY MEAN GARAGE? DO PEOPLE HOLD YOU IN HIGHER REGARD? "I don't know yet, but I know that it brings credibility, and on a personal level, you join an exclusive group which is what you're really proud of. It begins on your victory lap when you're acknowledged by Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton and Johnny Benson and Bobby Labonte, and that's where it begins. You're acknowledged as, 'Hey, you won.' As a competitor, it's what you work for, so there's got to be some significance."

WAS THE WIN ANY MORE SATISFYING BECAUSE THE TEAM HAD BEEN BUILDING TOWARD THIS, AND YOU HAD BEEN SAYING WITH CONVICTION THAT THE TEAM WAS CLOSE TO GETTING A VICTORY? "The great thing about what happened Monday is that the Tide team earned it. We went toe-to-toe all through the race, on the race track, on pit road, the decisions that were made from the pit stands - we really earned that win. And the way that it ended, racing Dale Jarrett, was so appropriate, and that's the satisfaction."

ONLY ONE FORD WAS IN THE TOP 10 DURING QUALIFYING. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THIS RACE? "I feel like we could win any one of the last six races. But, that's not going to come because we wish for it or we try to talk ourselves into it. We're going to have to go out on Sunday and earn it like we did last week. I'm a little concerned with statistically where the Ford is relative to the other manufacturers here. Normally, I wouldn't respond to that question, but I always told myself that I win I feel like I've earned the privilege to represent Ford in this battle of manufacturers. And right now, clearly, we need a little help."

WITH THE WAY THE RULES PACKAGE IS SET UP, ARE THE FORD BETTER OR WORSE IN TRAFFIC AS OPPOSED TO RUNNING ALONE IN QUALIFYING? "It's not nearly as significant in a group, so if we are at a disadvantage straight up, it will be much less of a disadvantage on the race track. However, when you get to the front of that pack, and you're not being pulled by any dirty air, that's when the fastest car really shows its muscle. And that's the unanswered question at this point, is can a Ford actually lead the pack with authority, and we'll have to wait and see."

MIKE BEAM, crew chief-32-Tide Taurus-DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO SAVOR THE VICTORY? "It's so hard, because on Tuesday we had to go right back to work because it was a day late. But, still, I enjoyed it. I got home and my little daughter made me a big sign and put in the yard, and stuff like that. So, I enjoyed it through my friends and family. My mom and dad, they really enjoyed it. I got some real neat phone calls. Flossie Johnson called me, congratulated me, and that was pretty special. Just a lot of people and friends called, so that's the way I enjoyed it. We really didn't have a celebration or anything, but we will at the end of the year. I think everybody in the own way celebrated. It was just a big relief. I feel like I got the benefit from all my family and friends, being very proud and very happy, so it worked out very well."

MUCH HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THIS BEING RICKY'S FIRST WIN, BUT THIS WAS YOUR FIRST WIN SINCE 1994. HOW DID THAT FEEL? "It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling to be part of that, and be a part of this organization. I still remember winning Dover, I still remember winning Darlington. It was very special to me because I really wanted to win at Martinsville. I've been going there 29 years, and seen a bunch of great races up there from years past. The thing about being in Victory Lane, I was surrounded by 20-some people, none of which had won a Winton Cup race before, so that was pretty cool, to see that and experience that, to be part of that with all those guys. From my standpoint, for me, just to look at these guys, they made it so cool that I was able to bring that to their career. I'm 45 years old, and I'm not going to do this much longer. I'm being very honest. I can't keep this pace up as far as the hours that are dedicated to it. I will, but, still, it's hard and these young guys, they're doing such a good job. So, I hope I get many more, but like I told everybody Tuesday, whether you win one or you win three or you win 100, the main thing is you did win."

IN THIS GARAGE, WHAT IS A VICTORY WORTH? IF YOU HAVE A WIN CAN YOU CARRY MORE WEIGHT? "Oh, I think definitely that. Once you do have a win, people do realize that you are the real deal. I think it does carry some weight. And from the manufacturers, you know, you get more wind tunnel time, and things like that. It's just going to help our whole program because it'll give us some more resources. As far as in the garage, yeah, you do benefit from it - especially, like I say, winning at a hard place like that, a real handling race track. But, going back, I'm excited because that was one our chassis'. That was a home-built car. I thought that was pretty cool."

-Ford Racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven