Talladega: Ricky Craven preview

HICKORY, NC (April 19, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, returns to Talladega after posting two top-10 finishes last year at the biggest track on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit. Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide ...

HICKORY, NC (April 19, 2004) - Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet, returns to Talladega after posting two top-10 finishes last year at the biggest track on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit.

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

Last year you finished fourth and eighth respectively at Talladega. You also ran well at Daytona before suffering a gear problem. What are your expectations for this weekend?

"I believe the team has gotten much better at their restrictor plate program. I do need to qualify that we have run well at Daytona and Talladega since I strapped into the Tide car. What we haven't done is we haven't been able to finish the job for a variety of reasons. I can go back to 2001 when we were running fourth or fifth on the last lap and there was a wreck and it wiped us out and we were a half a lap away from a top-five finish. The following year, we led Talladega three times and probably had the best car we'd had. It was very exciting...all the planets were aligned, but we ran out of fuel and had to make a stop with just a few laps to go. So although the finishes reflect less performance, the team has always run well. We've just gotten better at finishing the job."

Aerodynamics and horsepower are the two key factors at Talladega, and handling is less of a premium as it is at Daytona. Where can a driver make a difference at a superspeedway?

"I think it is about managing momentum and aside from racing, of which I've obviously had a passion for my entire life, I like a good game of poker. It's a thinking man's game. I think that Daytona and Talladega have similarities to a game of poker where you are thinking about the next move and how the last move affected you and the players around you. You very much have to manage momentum like two forward, one back....three forward, two back......over the course of the day, you find yourself among the leaders and then you have a chance to win."

They say superspeedway racing is more mentally draining versus the physical aspect. How do you stay calm and focused during the race. Is there really such thing as "the zone?"

"Absolutely and I think that applies to all athletes. It is a level of focus. It is a different type of racing, but it is still racing."

Take me for a lap around Talladega....

"You shift through the gears..........first, second, third, fourth and then you are wide-open. It is very much about lining up with cars and that you feel you run well with or they have momentum and managing that. It is less physical and more mental. You race the pack more than you race the track."

Chassis No. 45: The Tide Racing team is taking Chassis No. 45 to Talladega this weekend. This is the same car the Tide team ran earlier this year during the Daytona 500 where it posted a 23rd place finish.

Appearance: Craven will sign autographs at his souvenir rig on Saturday, April 24th from approximately 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please check with the souvenir rig in advance for ticket distribution.

-ppim-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ricky Craven