This Week in Ford Racing August 9, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 F-150, has posted two second-place finishes in the span of four races with new crew chief Mike Beam, including a runner-up finish last...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 9, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Todd Kluever, driver of the No. 50 F-150, has posted two second-place finishes in the span of four races with new crew chief Mike Beam, including a runner-up finish last weekend at IRP. Kluever, winner of last year's Roush Racing Gong Show, is currently working with the final 12 competitors on this year's version of The Race for the Ride with The Discovery Channel. The 27-year-old Kluever discussed the importance of team chemistry and offered his take on reality television.
TODD KLUEVER-50-Shell Rotella T F-150
WHAT HAS SEPARATED YOUR PERFORMANCE IN THE LAST FOUR RACES SINCE BEING TEAMED WITH CREW CHIEF MIKE BEAM? "I really don't know. If there was a definite answer I think it would be a lot easier to find teams that could be successful. Me and Mike just seem to click. When I explain to him what the truck is doing he just knows what I need. Hal (Ralston) is doing an awesome job as our engineer, and Steve McCain is getting the guys pumped up as our new truck chief. Those three guys and I just seem to fit together perfectly. The first day I started with them I said, 'I'll make you guys a deal. I'll drive, Mike, you crew chief and Hal, you engineer, and everything will be good.' That's what they do. I tell them what it's doing and they fix; we keep it really simple. Steve McCain, my new truck chief, he is the best guy I have ever seen at firing people up and getting them to go in one direction and having fun. I really don't know what it is, but we're having the time of our life here now."
WHEN JACK ROUSH MADE THE DECISION TO SWAP THOSE THREE GUYS FROM THE NO. 99 TEAM, WAS THERE EVER ANY HESITATION ON YOUR PART? "I was open to it. Me and John Monsam had some success, some top-five runs and some decent finishes, but when Jack does something like that he sees all of the angles. I'll follow whatever he tells me to do. Like I said from day one, if I'm going to trust my crew to anybody, it's him. If he feels that he needs to make a change to help my career or help me run better then that's what I'm going to listen to. I approach everything with open arms. I was sad to see John go, and we did have good runs, but I saw Mike coming over as a new day, and we'll just see where we can go from here."
YOU HAD SOME STRONG RUNS ON THE LARGER TRACKS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, BUT YOU ARE NOW STARTING TO BE AS COMPETITIVE ON THE SHORTER TRACKS. HAVE YOU REACHED AN OVERALL COMFORT LEVEL IN THE TRUCKS NOW? "I'm comfortable everywhere we go now. We can be at a short track like IRP or a mile-and-a-half like Kansas, and we can unload off the truck first, second or third quick and qualify in the front and run in the front, so I don't think it matters where we go anymore. The 50 team is excited, and my guys are pumped up and ready to go. We've got to win one of these things before the year is over."
DO YOU FEEL THAT ANYTHING LESS THAN A WIN IN YOUR ROOKIE YEAR WOULD BE UNDERACHIEVING? "I think so right now. I won't be happy if we don't win a race. Everybody who has been in my shoes before - Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards - they have all won in their rookie years, and most of them won multiple times. It's not that we can't win; it's not if we can win; it's when we win. I think from the consensus I get in the garage now, it's not 'if you can win,' but 'when you're going to win' now. I keep talking to Max Jones about that and he tells me that I can't worry about it because the more pressure I put on myself the longer it's going to take. It's just neat to have all of the guys believing in me now, and the guys in the shop started off the first half of the season, I was smashing a lot of stuff and they were working pretty hard on my stuff, so it's nice to have some good results for them now."
YOU WERE AT MARTINSVILLE LAST WEEKEND WITH THE 25 FINALISTS FOR THIS YEAR'S GONG SHOW. TALK ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE. "The 25 kids that came in were great, and I can relate to them because it wasn't even a year ago that I was standing in their shoes. It was really neat to meet all of them and trying to help them out and seeing them get the opportunity to live their dream. It was a lot of fun. It was exciting to see those guys and gals in that situation and to get to spend some time with them, and I really look forward to Darlington and having me and Ricky pick a teammate for next year."
ARE YOU APPROACHING THE GONG SHOW AS IF YOU'RE PICKING A TEAMMATE FOR NEXT SEASON, OR ARE YOU SOLELY BASING IT OFF OF ON-TRACK PERFORMANCE? "I think me and Ricky are going into it thinking we want a guy who can run fast. He's going to help us the best if he can come out and be competitive right away, but he's also got to be somebody we can get along with and fit in. You can't have opposite personalities. As long as the on-track performance is there, we're going pick who we think will fit in best at the shop."
ARE YOU A BIG REALITY TV BUFF? "I'm not big on reality TV, but I watch the Real World every now and again. I don't know if you call it reality TV or not, but I watch Laguna Beach on MTV. I don't get too involved with the Survivors or anything like that. My schedule is too hectic to see it every week, so I'm usually lost and lose interest."