Crawford: From the driver's seat By Rick Crawford If ever the Circle Bar team needed a weekend off from racing, it is this weekend. We just got back from our race at Bristol Motor Speedway and we don't race again until we go to...
Crawford: From the driver's seat
By Rick Crawford
If ever the Circle Bar team needed a weekend off from racing, it is this weekend.
We just got back from our race at Bristol Motor Speedway and we don't race again until we go to The Milwaukee Mile for July 4. We just need to regroup and collect our thoughts coming off one of the strangest streaks of my career -- definitely the worst stretch of finishes we've had since we joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1997.
Right now, we're on a six-race streak of non-top-10 finishes. And while that is certainly not how we want to run -- especially after we notched back-to-back top-fives in April -- we're definitely not going to keep our heads down and give up.
This past weekend at Bristol, a part of the clutch just simply broke on the truck just as we were starting the race. We had to push the truck behind the wall and fix the problem before we got out on the track. It took us 186 of the 200 laps to make it onto the track but we did it. Like I said earlier, we did not give up. I'm not a quitter, my team is not made up of quitters and we went there to race.
While the final rundown sheet won't look very impressive to most people -- 38th place, 20 laps run -- our team proved a point on Saturday night. We proved that we have the character and drive to succeed. With that kind of make-up, don't look for too many more off performances the rest of the season.
The most frustrating thing, once again, was the fact that we suffered a simple mechanical failure. There was truly nothing we could do to prevent the problem -- it's just one of those situations.
Unfortunately, though, we've bad-lucked our way into six bad finishes in a row. During this last stretch, we've had problems with the clutch, transmission, engine, gotten black-flagged and been run over a couple times. I think we're about out of creative ways to not finish up front.
The only thing we can do is put the problems behind us and go to our next race in Milwaukee. It's nice to have a week off to recharge our batteries. With Milwaukee, we start on a streak of 10 races in nine weeks, so it gives any team that is prepared and focused the chance to make up ground in the point standings before the final stretch of the season.
Mayfield Wins First Cup Race, Rusty Continues Bad Luck at Pocono
Well, he finally did it. Jeremy Mayfield, who had been leading the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings recently, finally won his first race this past weekend at Pocono Raceway. The young driver from Owensboro, Ky. -- the same town that produced that shy, reserved champ Darrell Waltrip -- passed Waltrip and held off Jeff Gordon for the victory to extend his point lead. For those that may have been waiting for the bottom to drop out on this kid, forget it. He's driving with so much confidence right now and he's got a solid team behind him. Jeremy has been building over the past several years and may have just arrived for good.
Jeremy's teammate, Rusty Wallace, suffered through another bad race at Pocono. A while back in this column, I wrote about attrition starting to set in at this time of the season. Well, Rusty's motor gave up on lap 13 of 200, which resulted in a 42nd-place finish for the former point leader. Rusty now sits sixth in the standings, 216 behind his teammate. He really needs to regain his early-season consistency to get back into the race.
In the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, after 15 races, look at the point leaders. Other than Mayfield at the top, it's the guys you expected to be there for the championship -- Gordon in second, Dale Jarrett in third, Mark Martin in fourth and Terry Labonte in fifth. As former baseball pitcher Satchell Paige might have said, "Don't look back Jeremy, they might be gaining on you."
Question of the Week
John Fredrickson of Dallas, Texas, asks, "What is more important to you as a race driver, winning races or a championship?"
My goals are pretty simple. When we get to the race track on any given weekend, I want to run well and win that particular race. I figure that it's all I can do to take care of the present, though one race does not a championship make. Ultimately, I want to win a championship, because to to be that consistently good over a long season is quite an accomplishment. I've won track championships before and I came close to winning the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series title as recently as 1996. I guess I'd really like both -- the best way to win a championship is to win a lot of races.
Rick Crawford drives the No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & R.V. Park Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. If you would like to write Rick a question to have answered in this column, please send it to Siberini Sports Services; P.O. Box 943; Harrisburg, NC 28075. Everyone who sends in a question will receive an autographed photo and be entered in a drawing for a trip for two to the Nov. 8 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in Las Vegas, which includes airfare, hotel and passes to the race, courtesy of Accommodations Plus of Athens, Texas.
Source: NASCAR Online