Crawford Aims to Prove He Belongs

Crawford aims to prove he belongs By Shawn A. Akers PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) Last weekend, Rick Crawford didn't want to make his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory, at Homestead, look like a fluke. The second-year...

Crawford aims to prove he belongs By Shawn A. Akers

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 1998) Last weekend, Rick Crawford didn't want to make his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory, at Homestead, look like a fluke.

The second-year driver of the No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford accomplished that mission with another top-five finish, the first time in his young series career he's had back-to-back top-five efforts.

And while he may have silenced a few critics, Crawford has another hurdle to climb this weekend at the half-mile Portland Speedway oval in the Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts. He's made his way into the fifth position in the series standings, and hopes to keep his momentum going in the series' first short-track race of the year.

He's only 91 points behind series points leader Ron Hornaday, who already has two victories to his credit in 1998.

"Winning races is great, but we look at ourselves as legitimate contenders this year -- not only to win races, but also in the overall race," Crawford said. "Closing out top-fives and top-10s is critical to staying in contention. Our victories will come, but it's just as important to avoid bad finishes."

With the exception of the season-opener at Walt Disney World Speedway in January, where he finished 29th, the second-year truck series driver has been able to do that. The top-five finish at Phoenix, Crawford said, was critical for him and the Circle Bar team to prove to themselves they belong with the frontrunners.

"Although my attitude is the same no matter how I finish the previous race, it was nice to follow up Homestead with another solid finish at Phoenix," Crawford said. "After the race, what I really kept thinking about was that if the race would have been 167 laps like at Homestead (as compared to the actual 150 laps), we may have had something for the leaders."

Crawford should have something for the frontrunners this weekend, if his performance at Portland last year is any indication. In his first race there, Crawford piloted his Ford to an eighth-place run, a performance that he says helped him gain a lot of momentum for the remainder of the season in 1997.

"I did get my first top-10 in a truck there last year, so I have good feelings toward the place," Crawford said. "I hope I can improve on that finish this time around and keep on this roll the Circle Bar team has going right now.

"I don't have a lot of experience on this track in particular, but like a lot of guys in this series, I grew up with short track racing. I'm as comfortable as I can be on a short track like this one -- the key is to qualify up front, stay out of trouble and bring home the best finish I can."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Rick Crawford