Atlanta: Crawford - Ford Friday interview

Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 International Truck Engine Ford F-150, will be making a NASCAR Camping World Series record 300th start this weekend. He spoke about the achievement before Friday's practice session. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS...

Rick Crawford, driver of the No. 14 International Truck Engine Ford F-150, will be making a NASCAR Camping World Series record 300th start this weekend. He spoke about the achievement before Friday's practice session.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS MARK AND YOUR WEEKEND AHEAD? "First of all, let me make it quite clear that it's 300 steroid-free starts (laughter). It means a lot to me and means a lot to me as far as the Circle Bar race team and Tom Mitchell as an owner. The Mitchell family support for 18 years as a driver for them and over 13 years here in the truck series, so that's what means a lot to me. Hopefully, we'll have a good day here tomorrow."

HOW IS YOUR CAR OWNER GOING TO CELEBRATE THIS MILESTONE? "At home. He's sending his daughter. Lisa Mitchell is gonna be here and she's representing her dad. She usually does. She was at Daytona and then she's gonna be here. He's very proud. Back 13-14 years ago when we were thinking of running the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the time, we had talked about other divisions of racing. We talked about the Cup Series. We talked about the Busch Series. And anybody that knows Tom Mitchell, he could pick just about any series he wanted to race in and field a team. The man had been at Indy in the early eighties for three or four years. He'd been in Cup in '86 with a Cup team, so his advice to me was, 'Let's keep an eye on this truck series and see how we're doing. I own two truck stops in southwest Texas and that's what I want to do. I want to field a truck team. Do you want to drive it?' And I'm like, 'Heck yeah. Let's do it.' So that's where we've been and that's where we've stayed. We've been very loyal to the series. We started with one truck and one engine, and now we've got two really nice race teams sponsored by International running in the series, so it's quite a commitment by the Mitchell family."

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AND WHO DID YOU LOOK UP TO GROWING UP? "I'm a third-generation racer out of Mobile, Alabama. Probably one of the first races I remember coming to is this one back in the sixties. I remember when NASCAR was running the legends of the sport that paved the race track here to allow people like me to be able to race on them were racing here. I remember clinging to the fence here in the infield. I started running short tracks around the Mobile, Pensacola area and then went on to run the All-Pro Series. Then I met Mr. Mitchell, but along the way several people - probably too many to mention everybody - but everybody from auto parts vendors to tire vendors to volunteer help on the weekend because we all had jobs. There's a lot to say at this day and time for young drivers. Young drivers meet their angels real early in life and they're able to go race and can still go to college. They can still do a lot of things. Back then in racing we worked regular jobs during the day and we had volunteer help at night working on our cars in the evening, and we raced on the weekends. We put everything we had, and even from Cup to racing locally, everything people did back then - whatever they made that week got them to the next week. That's how we made it back in the late seventies and early eighties."

FINAL THOUGHTS? "I'd like to also mention that this is 300 starts with Tom Mitchell, but it's also 300 starts with the same make - Ford Motor Company. If that don't mean Built Ford Tough, then you probably need to look for another definition."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rick Crawford