Final practice for tomorrow's Craftsman Truck Series season-opener concluded this morning with Rick Crawford at the top of the speed chart posting a speed of 190.066 mph. Crawford, the highest returning points finisher from last season, will...
Final practice for tomorrow's Craftsman Truck Series season-opener concluded this morning with Rick Crawford at the top of the speed chart posting a speed of 190.066 mph. Crawford, the highest returning points finisher from last season, will start Friday's 250-mile race from the 19th position. The unsponsored team will feature the Air Force Strategic Air Command logo on the hood of the No. 14 truck this weekend, a tribute to the branch of the military that team owner Tom Mitchell served in the early 1950s.
RICK CRAWFORD-14-Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford F-150:
HOW IS THE TRUCK IN THE DRAFT? "The Strategic Air command Ford does have a comfortable ride. Ray Stonkus set it up to where it's driving good. We're going to work on it a little under the hood. Greg Jacobs with Allan Vigil Engines has given us some great motors and we're going to try to pick it up a little bit under the hood where it attracts another truck a little better. I think the quick time on the board came when we were following that other brand. I don't think it was the barbed wire truck, but it was the same kind. We have a race piece, but I wish I was a little more excited about it. I am excited about running at Daytona, so we're going to do all we can do to have a good finish here."
HAVE DIFFICULT IS IT TO PULL OUT OF LINE AND MAKE A PASS THIS YEAR? "You have to have some help. I've aligned myself up with two or three guys that are independents as we are, and we run pretty good together. If we can keep it going and have a little discipline among the three of us, we can help each other to the front."
IS IT MORE DIFFICULT BEING A ONE-TRUCK OPERATION AT A TRACK LIKE DAYTONA WHERE THE DRAFT IS SO IMPORTANT? "On one hand, it's not any more difficult, but on the other hand, it does make a difference. There are a lot of independents up and down pit road and a lot of people looking for sponsors and even different brands, so if you have one looking to show off, like me, then we can go to the front and not worry about being a team player. If you had a two or three-truck operation where you could guide one another and maybe have radio contact where you could tell each driver what to do, you can manipulate the race."
YOU DIDN'T GET THE RULE CHANGE YOU WERE LOOKING FOR THIS WEEK, BUT WITH THE WAY THE TRUCK IS HANDLING IN THE DRAFT, ARE YOU MORE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT TOMORROW'S RACE? "I'm going to be blunt about this: if you give me a rulebook, I'm going to build a racing machine and I'm going to come to race. I'm not looking for a rule change. One would have been nice, but I think it's going to be a long time before we get one for what happened on Tuesday. But, I don't look at that as, 'look what that cost me.' No, it makes me work a little harder, which I'm used to that and my team is. We're going to work a little harder and try to beat these guys with what we've got. I still have to make my owner proud. Tom Mitchell has funded this team from his own pockets, and we've got a nice looking truck and a respectable team. We're racing for Ford Motor Company and we're going to do all we can to win that championship. The politics and all of the stuff that surrounds NASCAR, we're not going to worry about that any more this week; we're going to race."
HAVE POLITICS BECOME MORE PREVALENT IN THE TRUCK SERIES IN RECENT YEARS? "I think a mess has been created and I think it got created with NASCAR. It hurts us at some tracks, but there are other tracks where it doesn't. They deal with what's written on paper. I don't think they did it knowingly, and by the time things got to the way they are, we couldn't do anything about it."
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH THE OTHER TRUCKS IN THE DRAFT? "There were a couple of times this morning in the pack that I backed off because I saw a wreck coming. That's a good truck that I've got and we can race with it, but I think timing is going to be everything tomorrow, especially starting from where I'm starting. I've got a truck I like to call 'hound dog' because with a little sniff of air she can find her way to the front. That's what I'm going to be doing. I'm going to try to take it to the front and get myself in a comfortable position and race hard all day and we're going to try to race hard all year."