This Week in Ford Racing May 17, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, is looking to add his name to the list of 13 drivers that have won in all three of NASCAR's major touring series. ...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 17, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, is looking to add his name to the list of 13 drivers that have won in all three of NASCAR's major touring series. Craven, who has five top-10 finishes in six races this year including a second-place finish at Martinsville, is currently third in the point standings heading into Friday night's Quaker Steak and Lube 200 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
RICKY CRAVEN-99-Superchips Ford F-150
ALL OF THE TRUCK RACES THIS SEASON HAVE BEEN WON BY DRIVERS WITH CUP EXPERIENCE. IS THAT A SIGN OF BEING A VETERAN DRIVER OR A VETERAN DRIVER WITH CUP EXPERIENCE? "I think that I could say both because it's all a matter of experience. When you look up and down and see the lineup and there's a lot of drivers with Cup experience, so there's no question that the familiarity with the race tracks and the familiarity with the way NASCAR vehicles drive is important. Although the trucks drive different than either a Busch car or a Cup car, they're heavy and we run the same tire, so there are some similarities and I think all of those things weigh in some and have an effect. But, I also think that there's some talent that we identified in Cup level and it's just so competitive that it gets lost. Bobby Hamilton is a very good racer. Ted Musgrave is a very good racer, so it doesn't surprise me that they've had the success that they've had."
WHAT ABOUT THE VETERAN DRIVERS THAT HAVE MADE A CAREER OF COMPETING IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "I have a higher regard for a lot of the drivers in the truck series than any of the series that I've competed in before. The majority of them are very good racers. I have a familiarity with Bobby, Ted, Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine, Steve Park and Jimmy Spencer, but beyond that there's no advantage for me and there's not a big difference. I look at Terry Cook and he's a very good racer and he's had success. I look at Jack Sprague the same way and right down the line. Ron Hornaday is obviously very good at what he does, and it just seems to me that the truck series seems to reward experience and you can't just look at the Cup side of things. Maybe this year so far, but Dennis Setzer is an example, the success that he has had and he's in his mid-40s. Dennis is an example of how experience seems to prevail in this series, no matter where you get it."
THE TRUCK SERIES IS BILLED AS A FULL-CONTACT RACING, AND YOU'VE EXPERIENCED THAT FIRST-HAND. IS THERE TOO MUCH AGGRESSIVENESS IS THE SERIES? "There is certainly a fine line. Aggressive is tolerable, but over-aggressive is out of control. There's quite a mix right now in the truck series and I think it makes for great flavor. There's a mix of experience and a mix of youth, and there's the mix of aggressiveness and there's a percentage of overdriving and driving out of control. But, that all seems to work itself out because everybody in the sport that has an eye for the big picture understands that you're rewarded for consistency and you're rewarded over the long haul. They'll get it and if they don't get it they probably won't be around long because you're certainly judged every week, but you're ultimately judged at the end of the year. That's just the way the business is."
YOU HAVE THE GOAL OF RETURNING TO THE CUP LEVEL AT SOME POINT IN YOUR CAREER, SO HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEAR THE TRUCK SERIES BILLED AS THE SENIORS TOUR? "I've got no problem with that because if that's going to be a comparison, fine. I look at the PGA and The Seniors Tour, and they're two very legitimate tours. People tune in to watch both of those tours and I consider both of those to be the big leagues of golf. That might be somebody's analogy, but, to me, that doesn't quite fit with me because there's too much young talent there as well. From my standpoint, who knows? I'm really enjoying myself and I think I could do this and race this truck series for several years and really enjoy myself, and I may do that. The only point that I've made is that if I'm considered for an opportunity within Roush that it certainly interests me because I'm only in my 30's. But, I've always prefaced that with the fact that it has to be within Roush because I've got tremendous confidence in Jack and his programs."
YOU DIDN'T TEST AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE RACING SURFACE, AND WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU EXPECT UNDER THE LIGHTS? "I've heard all good. It's been very positive that there's lots of grip and there are options now. There were options before and there are more options in turns three and four. The thing about racing at Charlotte is that everybody is excited to come to Charlotte in May. You're home, it's a great time of year and it's an electric environment. The truck race is on Friday and the All-Star event is Saturday night. This is just a big deal and it's an exciting time on the schedule. I think everybody circles this May event in Charlotte on their calendars because it's just an enjoyable couple of weeks. I've always enjoyed Charlotte and run well at Charlotte. I finished third in the Coca-Cola 600 a few years ago and it's a track that I want to win at, but it hasn't happened yet. We're taking a new Superchips Ford to the race track, and it will be our first new truck in 2005 and I'm excited about it. Our expectations are pretty high for this weekend."
WHAT WILL BE THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PILOTING A TRUCK AND CAR AROUND THE MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK? "I think that the biggest difference will be having to find speed quickly. These races are shorter so you have to find speed in practice and qualify well; that sets you up for a good day. I say that, but Bobby Hamilton contradicts that whole theory. The fact is that there is an easy way and a hard way to do things, and Bobby seems to do it his own way and he seems to have a lot of success doing it, but I think he's also pretty darn good at using that strategy. I think for this weekend you're going to have to have a balance of a strong., good-handling truck with some straight-line speed; it has to be fast. We're not only racing at a track that apparently has a lot of grip and high banking, but it's also going to be at night. All of those things point toward a very exciting race on Friday."