MOORESVILLE, NC- (May 6, 2004) - Andy Houston has made a significant impact in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since his initial start at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the summer of 1997. Three wins, four poles, 27 top-five finishes and 48...
MOORESVILLE, NC- (May 6, 2004) - Andy Houston has made a significant impact in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since his initial start at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the summer of 1997. Three wins, four poles, 27 top-five finishes and 48 top-ten finishes later Houston is set to embark on his 100th foray in the truck series.
"It sure doesn't seem like my 100th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start," Houston, driver of the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge stated. "It surprises me that I have run that many races, but in a way I shouldn't be surprised. It has been very rewarding to compete in this series and I feel fortunate to be in such a great series. There is such a tremendous combination of competitors and teams in this series. You know that when you have had success in this series, you have really accomplished something. It would be great to win in my 100th start at Mansfield, that would be nice. I certainly think we are capable as a team of accomplishing that."
Houston has had many meaningful and monumental occasions over the course of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career. However the sweetness of that first taste of victory is hard to surpass.
"My first win at New Hampshire in 1998 was probably my most memorable moment in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Houston said. "We had a great battle with Greg Biffle, my Mom and Dad were there as part of the race team, we were without a sponsor at the time, it was just an awesome day. It was only my 19th start in the series. We had to overcome a bunch of problems that day -- we had some plug wires crossed, we ran out of fuel and I collided with Ron Hornaday o n pit road and crushed the side of the truck in. Despite all that I came off pit road with 30 laps to go and Biffle was 11 seconds ahead of us at the time. We had just an awesome truck that day. I caught him with five laps to go and passed him at the end to win for the first time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. That was a feeling that you just don't forget."
Houston parlayed his first win and a series of subsequent steady finishes into a fierce ongoing battle with Roush Racing's Biffle for the coveted 1998 NCTS Rookie of the Year award.
"The 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series battle for rookie of the year was a great battle with Biffle." Houston remembers fondly. "It seemed like every time that I would run good, he would run good. We took each other out at Bristol. I got loose and he got into the back of me and we were both done. In the end he had less problems than I did. Going into the last race at Las Vegas I think I was only three points back. We had a tire get away on pit road and suffered a penalty and he finished in third to beat me for the rookie title."
Houston's appreciation for the level of competition in the truck series has not diminished. Winning is just as difficult now as when he broke into the series, if not an even sterner task.
"The competitiveness of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is as tough now as ever," stated Houston, a 33-year old native of Hickory, NC. "I think I have seen it come full circle. During my rookie season in 1998 there was a lot of competition in this series. You had a lot of Cup teams who fielded very competitive teams in this series. DEI, Hendrick and Childress all had truck teams. Now with renewed manufacturer support and an influx of high quality teams it seems as if it is as competitive if not more so than ever before and that is good for everybody."
One of the biggest values that Houston sees in the truck series landscape is the commitment from the fans. It is a devotion to the close quarters, side-by-side racing that is rapidly expanding with every race. Houston is proud of the truck series' continued growth.
"The fans in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are just so loyal," Houston said. "They are true race fans. The last three or four races have been just packed. That says a lot about where this series is going. Everybody you talk to right now says the truck series is where some of the best racing is right now. What we are seeing in the grandstands reflects that attitude. The fans are taking notice. We have great teams, great drivers and we are having great races. This series has come a long way in nine years or so. I would love to go to some of these NASCAR Nextel Cup venues and fill it up for a truck race. The way the series is building I think we can accomplish that at some time. It took 50 years to build Cup up to where it is. The truck series has come a long way in a relatively short period of time."