This Week in Ford Racing June 15, 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 F-150, captured the pole in Craftsman Truck Series season opener in Daytona, but the 36-year-old Ohio native has otherwise had a ...
This Week in Ford Racing
June 15, 2004
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 F-150, captured the pole in Craftsman Truck Series season opener in Daytona, but the 36-year-old Ohio native has otherwise had a tumultuous start to the season. Cook, who recently moved to North Carolina to be closer to ppc Racing's Mooresville shop and upstart truck series team, shared his thoughts on the progress his team has made since its inception in December, racing outside of the United States and the need for green-flag finishes in all racing series.
TERRY COOK -10-Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l Ford F-150
YOU RECENTLY RELOCATED FROM THE INDIANAPOLIS AREA TO NORTH CAROLINA TO BE CLOSER TO PPC RACING. HAVE YOU BECOME MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE INTRICACIES OF THE TRUCKS YOU ARE RACING SINCE YOU CAN VISIT THE SHOP AND WATCH THEM BEING BUILT?
"It's probably not helped me understand more about the truck because I come from a background where I built my own race trucks from chassis to hanging bodies. Where it does help me is understanding more about ppc Racing. In NASCAR, anymore, a race vehicle is a race vehicle, but when you get involved with different people, that's the big change and how a different race team works and operates. NASCAR controls the technical aspects of the trucks, so they're virtually all the same. We've gone through a crew chief transition. If you want to get technical about it, we're on our third crew chief for the season, which is right now working out extremely well. I started off the season with a new race team, a new team owner, a new spotter; everything was new. Just being around the race shop itself and seeing how ppc Racing operates and what resources they have there to work with from the engineering group through the parts department is a big change for me and a very, very good change."
THIS IS PPC RACING'S FIRST FORAY INTO THE TRUCK SERIES. HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LEND YOUR EXPERTISE TO THEM TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN BUILDING CARS AND TRUCKS?
"I have been able to help them with some stuff. A lot of it is stuff you can't show anybody; you have to learn it on your own. At this point, we've only hung one complete body in-house, and right now we're in the process of doing all the repairs, and from here on out, we'll hang all of the bodies in-house. Body Dynamics hung the first five bodies for us and did an outstanding job. They hung the body on the truck that sat on the pole at Daytona and was the fastest truck down there all weekend. Every time you do one you seem to get a little bit better at it. From the first truck right through the fifth truck that we built, not that the first truck was not a good race vehicle, but the fifth truck is a lot further along as far as technical aspects of the truck. Truck 05 is light-years ahead of 01, and we knew going in that even though you race Busch cars and you have a NASCAR rulebook that says this is how to build a truck there are things that are different between the trucks and the Busch cars. Learning that for ppc Racing has been a bit of a learning curve, but nothing that they couldn't handle."
YOUR LAST TWO TEAMS WERE BASED OUT OF THE MIDWEST. HAVING A TEAM BASED IN MOORESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, HAVE YOU NOTICED AN ADDED BENEFIT?
"I think the biggest thing that I've seen already is that you have a large pool of people to pick from. Unfortunately, working out of the Midwest, and that's not to bash any of the team owners or personnel that are based there, but your pool of people is very small. You may take a guy off the street that is a good tire changer but not a good fabricator or mechanic. Or you may have a good mechanic, but he can't go over the wall. You're always kind of backed into the wall with one or the other, and when you race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series you don't have a budget that allows you to have just over-the-wall guys and just guys that work in the shop. You have the same guys that have to do both, so when you have a larger pool to pick from you can be a little more selective and I've learned very quickly in the South that you have a plethora of people to pick from. There are people that are somewhere else and they're not happy with where they're at and they're always looking for a new opportunity. One of the things that I have seen is that once people come to ppc they seem to stay there for a long time. The other thing about being based in North Carolina is the resources that you have in this area. Hutcherson-Pagan is 20 minutes away and Robert Yates Racing Engines is two blocks from our shop. Basically anything you need for that race vehicle is within a 15-minute ride. When you're based out of the North, if you run into a situation where you need hoses or fittings for the race vehicle you rely on UPS Next Day Air, so your shipping bills are immense and it always put you a couple of days behind."
THIS TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED IN THE OFF-SEASON, AND BASICALLY STARTED FROM SCRATCH. HAS IT BEEN A TOUGHER PROCESS THAN YOU ORIGINALLY THOUGHT?
"I would have to say that it might have been a little tougher than what I thought. As far as being different, I tend to be more hands-on than I was in any of the other programs, except for the 88 truck, which I pretty much ran that program. We're at a crossroads now where we haven't had the best season to date so far. We've had some good runs, but we' haven't gotten the consistency where it needs to be. It's just a matter of trying to get the right personnel in the right places to make that happen. We're definitely doing that and with Jamie Jones (crew chief) on board, I've seen a difference already in the first two weeks that he's been there. I only see it getting better each and every week, and the main thing is to get the consistency back to the team where we are running in the top 10 every week, and then you step up to top-fives, and once you start running in the top five you expect to start winning races."
NASCAR ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THE FORMATION OF AN OFFICE IN CANADA. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT POSSIBLY RACING ON A ROAD COURSE IN CANADA? "When you mention road courses I get excited immediately. I was never a road-course racer until I got involved in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I have found that it's more fun than any one driver should have on a given weekend. If you have a good vehicle, that only gets you about 40 percent there. Road racing is about 60 percent driver. You can put a Boris Said in the worst vehicle out there and he could put that thing in the top 10. One thing that I like about road racing is that it puts a whole new twist in the equation. It might be one of the most boring races for the fans and crew members when it takes two minutes to make a lap and they see the trucks for seven seconds, but as a driver you'll never have more fun than road racing. As far as racing north of the border, I've raced at Delaware Speedway in London, Ontario, Canada, in the ARCA Super Car Series, and having grown up in Toledo, Ohio, which is just a stone's throw from Canada, there were a couple of race tracks up there that we would race our short-track cars. Also, a lot of guys from Canada would race at our local tracks. I can remember on Sunday evenings that they would not only play the National Anthem, but the Canadian national anthem as well at the start of the races. Going to Canada and racing is definitely nothing new for me, and as far as expanding NASCAR, it's definitely the wave of the future. We're also talking about going to Mexico, and I can only hope that it goes off better than the experiences they had in Japan. They tried to do this about five years ago and it never seemed that it got totally off the ground. Knowing that we're in a situation where we can drive our transporters across the border and go into a different country and race, that is a lot easier than putting everything a container and shipping it across the ocean."
IS IT LOGICAL TO THINK THAT THE TRUCK SERIES SHOULD BE THE FIRST SERIES NORTH OF THE BORDER TO TEST THE WATERS?
"It seems like we are the ones that seem to try a lot of different things for NASCAR. We were doing the one motor rule five years before they adopted it in the Cup Series. There are a lot of things we have tried in the truck series that have filtered to the other series. If anything, it will bring more exposure to the truck series. It doesn't matter if it's the Cup cars, the Busch cars or trucks, whoever goes over there first is going to get the maximum exposure. If it happens to be the truck series then I think it will be good for the truck series to do that."
THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH HAS LONG BEEN A RULE IN THE TRUCK SERIES. IS IT TIME TO SEE THAT PRACTICE USED IN THE OTHER TWO MAJOR TOURING DIVISIONS?
"I have a pretty strong opinion on that topic. We supposedly have 43 of the greatest race-car drivers in the Cup garage at a race track. I don't care if you're at Darlington, Talladega or Bristol, they're still supposedly 43 of the world's greatest race-car drivers, and those fans come to see the race winner drive underneath the checkered flag under power, racing and banging fenders for the win. Now, if they come to Pocono, for example, and the caution flag flies with four laps to go, the fans didn't even realize that what they just saw was the end of the race. That's what gets these fans upset. I don't condone throwing debris on the track. That is not right and those fans should be ejected and never allowed into a speedway again because they are not fans. But, they are voicing their opinion; they are showing their disrespect for the way it is called. I'm not saying I'm going to stand up and line up with them because, again, I do not condone that, but the fact remains that I don't care where we are, there is no reason why we cannot have a green-white-checkered finish in any racing series. You can even look at the Indy 500 a couple of years ago where Paul Tracy thought he won the race and it was a big mess. Had they adopted the green-white-checkered shootout that is in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, it would have ended all of that speculation. When you're spending in excess of $40 for a ticket you want to see the end. We never see an NFL game end early if the football gets deflated. I understand NASCAR has contracts with the television networks, but they've seemed to have figured it out in the Craftsman Truck Series."
DOES THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH CHANGE THE STRATEGY OF THE RACE IN TERMS OF FUEL?
"Absolutely it does, and you have to plan for that. But that's part of the race strategy and part of the difference between taking two tires and four tires. We are in the entertainment business, and the job of putting on a show for the fans is just part of the race strategy. You have to account for that. If you're out of gas, you're out of gas. I don't care if it would have taken another 20 laps past where we were supposed to be at Mansfield, the fans deserved to see a green-flag finish. If that requires 10 guys to come in and out in fuel, and that will change the race, that's just the way it is. The fans come to see an awesome race and we're in the entertainment business and it's our job to put on the best show we can for the fans."