RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford F-150 (Qualified 31st) YOU HAVE STRUGGLED IN QUALIFYING TRIM. WHAT IS THE TROUBLE? "I really don't know. Two words - bad attitude. If we let Ray Stonkus have a little more time, I know he's ...
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford F-150 (Qualified 31st)
YOU HAVE STRUGGLED IN QUALIFYING TRIM. WHAT IS THE TROUBLE? "I really don't know. Two words - bad attitude. If we let Ray Stonkus have a little more time, I know he's getting up in age, but he hasn't given up and I haven't quit driving. Give it a little while and Ray will have this thing figured out by tomorrow night and we'll do some drafting with it, and you can never tell at Daytona, we might the Circle Bar Ford in Victory Lane on Friday night after all."
DEFINE BAD ATTITUDE. "It's not the driver or the team, it's the attitude of the truck. We're not getting the front end to go down like the rear end. You can get the front end to go down, but the rear end wants to kick up in the air. Then, we get the rear end to go down and it lifts the front off the ground. If we can get the whole truck to work all four wheels together and get it down on the surface of the race track, we'll be fine. That's the closest we've been. That's the fastest lap that we've turned the whole day, so we're heading in the right direction."
YOU STARTED 19TH LAST YEAR AND WON THE RACE. HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING AT DAYTONA? "The '04 Ford F-150 is going to be a good race truck. It's always raced well in testing when we went to other race tracks. Here it's driving well and I think it's going to draft well. It's always going to handle well and we're looking for a race on Friday night, of course, but right now for qualifying we're probably in the same boat we were last year, but I hope it's a little better. I would just like to come to Daytona one year - I've been here with the trucks every year that they've been here - and I'd like to come to Daytona one year and be at the top of the practice charts. That way I would have something to go for in qualifying and maybe sit on the pole, but right now I'm looking for a top 15."
TERRY COOK-10-Power Stroke Diesel/Oil Mate Ford F-150 (Qualified 1st)
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT RUN? "I'm really not. ppc Racing knows how to build race vehicles. Including the two laps qualifying, we have made five laps total today. We've been out three times and each time we've been out we've only made one lap. That's how good this program is and how good this truck is. It rolled off the trailer fast and we haven't had to do anything. We have not touched anything to it other than putting in qualifying oils for qualifying. That's just a tribute to what a good race program ppc Racing is."
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING AT DAYTONA? "Here's the situation. If you come down here and don't qualify good, you say, 'At least I have a good race truck.' But, do you really? You assume you do, but it's a lot better feeling to know you have a good, fast truck and feel that you can put it in race trim. I've been down here four years now and been in contention almost every year to be in Victory Lane or the top five inside of three laps to go. I've never been able to pull it off, but I feel this is the year. This is the year that Terry Cook, ppc racing, Ford and Power Stroke can pull it off. My confidence level is so high right now and I think a lot of it is because of the race team."
WITH THIS BEING A NEW TEAM, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO COME OUT OF THE BOX STRONG? "It's very important for everyone involved. Robert Yates is doing the motors this year for a new team and this is the first time that a truck was ever built in a ppc Racing shop. At any given time over the last three weeks, I can count 14 to 15 employees at ppc working on that race truck at the same exact time. It's just a credit to all of those guys for the amount of work and hours that they put in to get that truck to where it is today. It's their first ever race truck and it just tells you the kind of caliber of people that they have."
WITH A NEW MANUFACTURER IN THE SERIES AND A FEW NEW TEAMS, IS THERE A DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERE IN THE GARAGE THIS YEAR? "It's immensely different. Instead of having quantity in the truck series we now have quality in the truck series. That's not to downgrade any of the guys that aren't here this year that ran last year towards the back of the pack. I understand. It takes a lot of money to run in this series. You look around the garage this year and this is the best looking field of trucks that I've seen Daytona or even for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race."
JON WOOD-50- Roush Racing Ford F-150 (Qualified 20th)
"It's been a tough deal for us as far as this Daytona package. We only had one truck that we can really focus on and this truck series stuff isn't exactly like NEXTEL Cup where if you have a body that's not very good you can cut it off. We were dealt the cards we have to play with and that was it. Carl has a little bit better qualifying truck that us; I think we have a better race truck. Right after this is over with, the whole process of trying to go fast for two laps, you can throw it out the window; it's over with and our whole concentration from here on out is race stuff."
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING AT A TRACK LIKE DAYTONA? "You don't get anything really out of qualifying. It's the prestige and honor of qualifying well. It gives you momentum for the start of the race and the accomplishment of qualifying in the top 10. That's all there is to it, and sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. This time I don't think we will, but nevertheless, I know we have a good race package."
WITH CARL FORCED TO START AT THE REAR OF THE FIELD DUE TO AN ENGINE CHANGE, DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO FIND SOME DRAFTING PARTNERS FOR THE START OF THE RACE? "I will. For this race only, it pays off not to have made anybody mad. If you drive sensible throughout the year and don't wreck people, they remember that when you come to places like this. I think I've done that, so there's the majority of the drivers out there that I can work with."
FRANK KIMMEL-29-Advance Auto Parts Ford F-150 (Qualified 28th)
"I've run a few truck races and this is a great opportunity and I'm just looking forward to race."
YOU RAN IN THE ARCA RACE A FEW DAYS AGO. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN USE FROM THAT RACE IN THE TRUCK RACE? "Probably not a lot. This place here is a wide-open joint and these trucks drive so much differently than a car does, so we just need to this F-150 to run really, really good in the draft where we can stay on the floor all day and try to stay with the group because there's going to be a big group."
HOW DO THE TRUCKS DRAFT DIFFERENTLY FROM THE CARS?
"These things knock such a big hole in the air it's much easier to stay with the draft, but that allows for bigger packs. There are going to be a lot of interesting things going so I think the person who has a really good driving truck all day long is going to succeed."
WITH YOU LIMITED EXPERIENCE IN THE TRUCK SERIES, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO FIND DRAFTING PARTNERS? "You can talk all you want to before the race, but tomorrow evening when we get out there, we'll probably find somebody that our truck runs good with and is comfortable with and stay with them. I guess some of them probably trust me and that's the big thing, to be around people you trust in a race like this."
BRANDON WHITT-38-Cure Autism Now Ford F-150 (Qualified 18th)
"We came in this weekend and we unloaded good and had a pretty good truck going into qualifying and unfortunately it slowed down. We're not sure what happened, but I'm sure we'll figure it out."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE TURNED SOME HEADS WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE SO FAR? "I know we've gone out there and done the best we can, and I think some people are starting to watch. We've stepped up our program this year to run for rookie-of-the-year honors and that includes a switch to Ford and a better motor program."
AS A ROOKIE, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO FIND DRAFTING PARTNERS AT THE START OF THE RACE? "I think it will. Nobody knows who I am and nobody has really raced around me very much and now we're going to go out here and you need partners to move forward. Hopefully I can go out there in drafting practice and show that I can run with them and not destroy everybody's trucks, and hopefully I'll get some partners for when we race."
BEING A ROOKIE, DO YOU HAVE TO DO ANY OFF-TRACK LOBBYING TO GET DRAFTING PARTNERS? "Yeah, I think if you can be personable with them off the track, that helps a lot, too."
CARL EDWARDS-99-Superchips Ford F-150 (Qualified 6th)
YOU WERE FORCED TO CHANGE A MOTOR IN PRACTICE THIS MORNING, SO NO MATTER THE QUALIFYING EFFORT YOU WILL START THE RACE AT THE REAR OF THE FIELD. DOES THAT CHANGE YOU MENTALITY GOING INTO QUALIFYING? "I'll tell you what, we won two races last year from the very back, and I feel that unless we get caught up in something because of being in the back, to me, starting in the back is advantage because you learn more. And, if you're lucky enough to pass some guys, they all start looking the same. When I start up front, sometimes I protect more than I'm an aggressor, so I think starting in the back is kind of good for me."
DO YOU NEED TO FIND A DRAFTING PARTNER AT THE START OF THE RACE IN ORDER TO MAKE IT UP FRONT? "That will be tough, but I hope that I haven't made too many people mad last season and that somebody will draft with me, but I'm telling you, this is not going to be a simple race. It's not going to be two or three guys that can just go to the front. There are going to be trucks all over the track. It's going to be spectacular and I don't know if anybody will have a partner."
TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES. "The difference between last year and this year is huge. I was pretty wide-eyed a year ago; I didn't really know what to expect. I went through a pretty bad experience last year at this race where I got a little too anxious and let the truck get away from me and I think this year I'll be a lot more patient. I feel like I have a little better feel for how the race progresses and things like that."
DO YOU THINK YOU WILL HAVE MORE FRIENDS WITH THE WAY YOU ENDED LAST SEASON? "Oh yeah, I didn't have any friends at the beginning of the year, I was crashing into everything. It's not about friends. All of these guys are great. They put up with a lot of rookie mistakes from me and I'm grateful for that. I ran into a lot of people just trying to find that limit and I think I found it now. I'm confident that this season is going to be a lot better and a lot freer of mistakes."
STEADMAN MARLIN-67-Forced Ignition/Fiddleback Racing Ford F-150 (Qualified 25th)
"We have a lot better truck than what's showing now. When we came here and tested we were fifth and went to Talladega and was one of the fastest trucks there with the Roush trucks. I just don't know what happened. We struggled with it all day. It isn't acting like the same truck. The handling is still there, but I think we're hurting on the engine right now, we were pulling too much gear. We need to go down because we thought we were going to blowing and we were trying to go for it. We over-engineered ourselves. I know the truck will draft good. It drafted good when we tested here and the team is great. The work they've done on it to turn it out as quick as they did, I couldn't be more proud of them."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO PUT A COMPETITIVE EFFORT ON THE TRACK IN SUCH A SHORT TIME? "It's hard to do, especially with a new team. They didn't now anything about the truck series and to come in and do as well as they have is a great accomplishment."
HAS YOUR FATHER SHARED ANY OF HIS INSIGHT ABOUT DAYTONA WITH YOU? "Not really because the trucks and the cars are two different monsters. He'll help me spring-wise, but there isn't a lot he can help me on. It's just one of those deals."