This Week in Ford Racing September 13, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, is heading home to New England this weekend looking to add his name to the list of 14 drivers that have won in all...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 13, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, is heading home to New England this weekend looking to add his name to the list of 14 drivers that have won in all three of NASCAR's major touring series. Craven, who made his truck series debut last year at New Hampshire International Speedway, is currently 13th in the point standings, 221 points out of the top five with seven races remaining in the season. Craven has experienced success at the 1.058-mile oval, winning the fall Busch Series race at NHIS in 1991 and capturing the NEXTEL Cup Series pole in the fall of 1998 in his first race after returning from post-concussion syndrome.
RICKY CRAVEN-99-Superchips Ford F-150
AS THE SERIES HEADS TO NEW ENGLAND THIS WEEKEND, COULD YOU THINK OF A BETTER VENUE THAN NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY TO COLLECT YOUR FIRST TRUCK SERIES VICTORY? "If you write the script, this is the perfect setting. I'm feeling good about going home and racing this weekend. Actually, I've felt that way for a few weeks. I felt like we hit a headwind back in the middle of the year and had some strange circumstances, but we've fallen from second in points all the way down to the teens. It's been frustrating, but every time I've strapped the helmet on I felt like we were in the game, we've just got to finish the job and we haven't done that for a while. We've been run into the last three races and the easiest way to avoid that is to be up front. That's the easiest way to overcome that. I can make all sorts of excuses, but it's not going to help. We've just got to run faster and we're going to a place where my confidence is sky high and I love to race. We went to The Motor Mile (Radford, Va.) last week and we ran the truck and I think that went a long way in helping John (Quinn, crew chief) and I get comfortable with the truck. We basically brought it back and put decals on it and we're taking it as is."
HAS THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN THE TRUCK SERIES EXCEEDED YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "I was not guilty of underestimating the series or the competition. My assessment would be that the first eight races, I felt like we overachieved in some respects having no truck experience. We went to seven of the first eight race tracks and finished in the top 10, and our worst finish was 18th, our only finish outside the top 10. We were sitting 19 points out of the lead and I felt like that was a better start than we could have asked for. Now, the next 18 races we underachieved and I don't understand it. If you were to anticipate the year, you'd think just the opposite, really. Maybe the first eight races we would find our way and capitalize the second third of the year, but everything was going as planned until we went into the second third of the season and then we've had a variety of challenges. I think that we have the ability to close strong and that's what I'm focused on, but we've got to do it one race at a time and that starts this weekend."
EARLIER THIS YEAR YOU STATED THAT YOU DID NOT WANT TO SERVE A FILL-IN ROLE, DRIVING ON AN INTERIM BASIS. HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR POSITION NOW THAT YOU ANNOUNCED YOU WOULD NOT BE BACK AT ROUSH RACING NEXT YEAR? "It would be difficult starting a season fresh knowing that it's interim. I think that would be very difficult. I may have softened on that a bit because having given some consideration to that, opportunities are created from performance. I think back to the two Cup wins that I have with the Tide team, and I went into that year with a one-year contract and ended up spending nearly four years there. That made me reevaluate that a little bit because there are opportunities out there and the key in this business is to capitalize on opportunities. My situation here is that I was pleased with our start, our first eight races, and I've been very disappointed with the last eight or 10 and I want to correct that. I want to end the year on a high note because you live with it and it's personal."
HAVE YOU TALKED WITH OTHER TEAMS YET ABOUT PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON? "I think that the only chance you have is to perform, and in some respects closing strong and running well will help my case for next year and that's how I'm approaching it. It's the bottom line. It is all about performance and where you finish and not much consideration as to how you get there. It's a bottom-line business. I'm not as concerned about next year as I am about running well next week. I believe that's the right approach because if we have a strong performance it will create opportunity, but I'm very much about finishing what you start. The fact is this has been a good opportunity. Roush Racing is an excellent company and I've enjoyed it, but going to victory lane here in the next seven races would do a lot for all of us and it would be the correct way to close the deal and move on. That's what my interest is. That's why I'm here today at the shop. I'm committed to the 99 Superchips team."
KURT BUSCH MENTIONED AFTER LAST WEEK'S IROC RACE AT RICHMOND THAT THE FINISH REMINDED HIM OF THE RACE HE HAD WITH YOU AT DARLINGTON. WERE YOU ABLE TO WATCH THAT RACE, AND DID IT REMIND YOU OF YOUR DUEL WITH HIM? "I was sitting on my pit box watching it with John Quinn as a race fan and I got my money's worth. It was an awesome race. I was on my way down to congratulate Mark (Martin) and I didn't know Kurt was on pit road, but when I saw him I stopped and congratulated him because it was much like my race with him. It was a little different because he and I made contact all the way to the start-finish line, and I didn't really see that with Mark, but I felt that Kurt ran a really good race and he didn't use up Mark. He did it the right way and there is etiquette in the sport and I thought the two of them did it the right way. It was kind of cool that I crossed paths with him under the circumstances, but what motivates me - and I ride along thinking about it - is the same thing that motivated me when I signed on with Jack Roush. I want to win a truck race, and although battling for the championship is remote at this point, winning is very reasonable, and that's what motivated me when I got the call from Jack and that's still what motivates me. I want to win a race and then we'll move on."