Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, will have a new crew chief this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. It was announced this week that John Quinn, shock specialist for Roush Racing's Craftsman Truck Series teams, would assume crew...
Ricky Craven, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, will have a new crew chief this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. It was announced this week that John Quinn, shock specialist for Roush Racing's Craftsman Truck Series teams, would assume crew chief duties for the final 10 races of the season. Craven spoke about the change and his focus for the remainder of the season.
RICKY CRAVEN-99-Superchips Ford F-150
DISCUSS THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK. "There was a change in the middle of the season, and that was a company decision. It benefited part of the program and the 99 hadn't benefited from it, so the decision was made to correct that. That's the extent of it on the surface, and it looks like a lot of changes. I'm a part of the company, I'm a part of the team and I'm going to support the program."
WITH THE PIECES THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN PLACE, HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL THIS TEAM IS TO SCORING A VICTORY? "It appeared as though we were closer the first eight races than we were the last eight, but some of that is disguised by some difficult circumstances and tough luck, and perhaps poor decisions. But, I've got 100 percent confidence in the people I'm around that the team can go to victory lane. There's no question about that. I think we've all got to dig deep and get back on track and get our confidence back where it belongs, and I think that will come as a product of all us working together."
WILL THE SEASON BE ANY LESS OF A SUCCESS IF YOU DON'T SECURE A WIN? "Absolutely. That's why we do this. The obvious goal was to come in and battle for the championship and I thought we got off to a very good start. We probably overachieved in the first eight races based on our experience in the truck series. We had seven top-10 finishes in the first eight races and we were 30 points out of the championship lead. Then we underachieved the next seven races, and it's the truth of consequences now: What are we going to get out of these last 10? We're all determined to get back to where we belong, there's no question. When you go to eight races at the first of the year and they're all different in size and dynamics, and they're all different in appearance and how you prepare for them, and to run as well as we did, there was some strength there and we need to recapture that."
HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR APPROACH FOR THE FINAL 10 RACES OF THE SEASON? "The way that I look at it is more along the lines of each week capitalizing on each opportunity. Although we've been off the pace the last month and half, we can still win this race tomorrow and I'm less interested in averaging the last 10 races than I am on capitalizing on each and every one of them. Interestingly enough, had we maintained the trend that we started the first eight races, we may have viewed these 10 races differently than we are today. Today we can actually go for it because we've positioned ourselves now where there's less points consequence and we can go for the win."
EVEN THOUGH YOU'VE NEVER RACED AT NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY, DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN TOMORROW? "It's interesting because we go to Mansfield, and I've never seen the place and we qualify on the outside pole and give ourselves a real good shot to win. There are other places that we've had the same result, so I don't think there's a big liability for the Superchips team to come to Nashville having not been here and not realistically have a chance to go to victory lane. I think we do."
YOU'VE TESTED HERE IN A CUP CAR, BUT DO YOU THINK THAT INFORMATION WILL HELP YOU THIS WEEKEND? "That's what I'm going to find out. Some of that has got to translate, but I don't know how much it will help. The Cup car versus the truck, and testing versus racing, those are a lot of different variables."
WITH SILLY SEASON BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE, DO YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN RETURNING TO THE CUP SERIES FOR A ONE-YEAR STINT? "I have allegiance to Jack Roush. He called me and he offered me a job. I accepted the job and Jack's been 100 percent with me. He's been good to me and he's been good for me, and I've enjoyed building that relationship. But to answer the question, it would be difficult for me to entertain thoughts of substituting for a year, or being a lame-duck driver as they put it. I'm 39 years old and I have expectations, and I'm just not sure that's what I would want. To me specific, that probably wouldn't interest me, not for a year. I'm not closing the door on Cup, but I think the truck series has satisfied a lot of things for me. I honestly have not thought much about 2006 and I don't want to because I'm really more concerned about the rest of the year. There are a lot of interesting things going on it the sport, but I think that started a few years ago where this trend changed. The average age of drivers has continued to decline and most everything I've been exposed to in my life works in cycles, and I'm wondering when that cycle changes, when the shift goes back toward experience. Some people would maintain that it's not going to change, and they may be right because I think NASCAR actually mimics the other sports closer today than they ever have where 40 is sort of the premium. There's a sweet spot there where you need to put the numbers up and you need to prove yourself, where at 30 there's not that much emphasis. I think 40 is becoming more of the number, and guess what, I'm 39. I'm not talking myself out of a job, I'm just being realistic and whatever I choose to do going forward will have to be within this environment we now live in where everybody is looking for the next 20-year-old driver."