Continued from part 1 Q: Were there at the time of have there been any other owners with serious interest, Cup or otherwise? CRAVEN: No, I wouldn't say serious. I don't think. I think that part of that is that this is such a fickle business.
Continued from part 1
Q: Were there at the time of have there been any other owners with serious interest, Cup or otherwise?
CRAVEN: No, I wouldn't say serious. I don't think. I think that part of that is that this is such a fickle business. It's very much about now and what have you done for me lately. It's very much a statistical business. We're all measured by the numbers, and in a lot of cases the numbers don't lie. If you look at 2004, the numbers were terrible and that certainly didn't help my case. But I said most of the time, and the exceptions to that are that sometimes there are limiting factors and I think there are situations that you have challenges that perhaps are different or unusual that can be corrected. So I look at 2004, and yeah it was certainly frustrating for everyone involved, and we didn't put up good numbers, but I look in the mirror and I say, 'I'm still the same guy that won the race at Darlington and won a race three year earlier at Martinsville at the highest level of this sport. I still have this hunger and desire to do this. So, I'm going to go after it. I'm going to continue to pursue it. Fortunately for me, there's a guy that I think is an excellent study of this sport and an excellent study of NASCAR and the sport of auto racing and that is Jack Roush. He called, and had an interest, he never wavered and he has supported me 100 percent from the moment we shook hands. And I've enjoyed that.
Q: Been enjoying yourself, do you find there is less pressure in the Trucks than at the Cup level.
CRAVEN: I think that most people would expect the answer to be yes there's less pressure when in reality as a competitor, it doesn't matter if its a chess match with a relative or whatever, if you're a competitor, you still have the desire and interest in winning. So it's no different. There's as much pressure for me as to perform today as there was a year ago or 10 years ago. But all that's good. It's motivating. It's healthy to a point. I think the difference for me today is the difference between being 38 and 28 -- and for the people who are listening that are closer to 38 than 28, they understand; and for the people who are listening today that are 28, well they don't understand, but they will. There are some things in life that you can't buy or you can't read or you can't get from other people that you just need to experience yourself. That experience is invaluable, and I think it is critical to maintain a hunger and a desire. Anytime you're a competitor, you've got to have those two things to be successful, but I also believe you can want something too bad or too much. If you can't manage that and sometimes if you're really young and you don't understand that sometimes that will prevent you from getting where you want to be. So I've got no problem with where I'm at 38. I'm enjoying myself, and the pressure to perform as high as it's ever been, but I think I have a better ability to manage it.
Q: NASCAR of all upper level racing Series seems to hold on to old timey way of thing with the engines and what not. Instead of gauges, a lot of Series have computer monitors. Do you think that NASCAR will got to that point.
CRAVEN: We may if every vehicle on earth goes to digital or everything that the consumer relates to is digital. The one thing that NASCAR has been very, very good at and deserves credit for is that they have evolved in to this great big machine, a marketing giant and an incredible brand. But they have preserved a product that most people can identify with. They've done a great job of capturing that with the Truck Series, as well. The people in grandstands and the people watching at home need to identify with these automobiles, and they need to make that connection because a lot of what we do is driven by manufacturers and the industries, so that's a critical component to us continuing with growth and popularity that we have.
Q: Talk about the shifting of gears for you in your career from going from Cup to truck? What if you win the championship at Roush Racing, what are your thoughts about going to another Cup team if you get that offer?
CRAVEN: The only way I can answer that is to say that my allegiance is with Roush Racing. They have provided me a great opportunity to race the Superchips Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I'm enjoying that, and I'm determined to capitalize on the opportunity, as well as all these team members that I race with. It's hard to sit here and imagine or try to draw some hypotheticals. I haven't done much of that, so I don't want to sound silly. It's not something I think a lot about. It's a fair question and I should give you a better answer but I don't have one. As I sit here today, my allegiance is with Roush Racing. It's quite clear that if I get back to the Nextel Cup Series, I would want that to be with Roush Racing. There's a lot that goes into this. I have raced for 24 consecutive years. I've enjoyed it. It's not enough. I've got some racing left, and I'm still very enthusiastic about what I do, but if I'm going to be away from my family and I am going to sacrifice a lot of personal, family situations and events, then it needs to be for the right reasons. Going forward, I'll have to make that decision if it exists. If I had an opportunity to race a Roush car in Nextel Cup, I would do it.
Q: In terms of the fun you are having now in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, do you sense a championship in your grasp. I know it is early, but would that be something that would help bolster the career.
CRAVEN: It's gotten my attention. I have looked at the Series and how strong it has become. I've looked at the drivers that make up the Craftsman Truck Series now. I have some familiarity with half the drivers, and they're all very good. I raced with them in Nextel Cup. The other half of the field is a group of either youngsters who have ambitions of being in the big leagues or Nextel Cup one day and are using this as an entry, or drivers that have been very successful in other ranks and they want a piece of the action. They want a piece of this excitement. Without question if we were successful in winning the championship, it would be a feather in our cap -- all of us because this is a very, very competitive series. I think the greatest risk of us losing or not winning the championship would be to continue to talk about it. I think it's about what we do and not what we say. There's just a lot of work to be done. We've gotten off to a very good start, but we've got some big question marks going forward. We've got some real challenges going forward that we're going to have to address. Right now, we're not the favorites by any means. I think the favorite obviously is Bobby Hamilton -- he won the championship last year. He's leading the championship. There are some other drivers and teams that have been together longer than we have, and an example of that is Ted Musgrave, who is deserving of a title. There are several teams and drivers that we're going to have to battle for this. I'm very excited about what's going on.
Q: So what you are saying is that if all passenger cars went to digital then maybe NASCAR would?
CRAVEN: Whether it's a Ford or a Pontiac or Chevy or a Toyota, whatever it is you drive, there needs to be that connection between the fan and the driver...NASCAR has done a great job on the exterior and respectable on the inside...whatever it is your driver drives there needs to be that connection...at least the vehicle I drive still has mechanical gauges...you're probably thinking it is a '64 Ford, but it's not
Q: Jack Roush. Could you compare his style versus some other team owners you have worked with..
CRAVEN: Jack Roush is not only the owner of the company and a participant, but he is very active and involved weekly, even daily. His presence is invaluable. The fact that he is there Friday, Saturday and Sunday is very important. The employees like seeing that kind of support...he has a knowledge of the sport and can participate at any level...I have been with him a number of times now. It amazes me that he can actually keep involved mechanically as he does and understand the business. He's definitely a full participant 100 percent into this company.
Q: Ward Burton apparently had similar opportunities as you this season and he elected to sit out and see if a Cup ride would come along. If the Roush ride hadn't come along, would you have done the same thing.
CRAVEN: I think that comes with risks...I think that it is a challenge...I respect Ward and respect his decisions. I wouldn't want anyone to be misunderstanding of my opinions...I was in this position once before when I left Hendrick Motorsports, and I wondered how can there be life after Hendrick Motorsports...one of the things that became clear to me then...and I got great counsel...I believe you have to be active in this business...out of sight, out of mind and I really believe that...regardless of what business you are in, people admire determination...usually measured during tough times...(I don't think it is worth the) risk with not being active. I went to a team -- the 50 team -- that had limited schedule and limited success...and then Cal Wells called me.. boy am I thankful I got that call...because if I hadn't got that call, I have two trophies that wouldn't exist... I not only thank Cal Wells, I appreciate Hal Hicks and the 50 team for letting me keep going.
Q: Silly Season rumblings in Cup. What is it like to start hearing rumors about your job and how do you know when you are in the hot seat?
CRAVEN: I have some experience with that and it is very uncomfortable...no different from being involved with NFL, NBA, major league baseball...maintaining confidence...that's challenged anytime you become part of the rumor mill and you are being questioned...of course the greatest way to overcome that is to have some success or do something to shift that momentum the other way... but that is difficult to do.
Mentally it takes its toll on you...boy the times they are a changing because May is too early for Silly Season.
Q: NASCAR has been handing down more penalties and suspensions . Does it affect the way you try new things at the track .
CRAVEN: Some of the penalties and some of the infractions have been reasonable. Some have been difficult. I'm not the judge and jury of all that. I think it's natural for a competitor to try and get every advantage possible...exceeded that limit or whatever is allowed and you knew that then you're guilty...got there by mistake should be considered different. If an automobile is low after the race, that's an infraction and it's clear...if that continues to be a trend, see repeatedly...make sense to me that perhaps NASCAR should help system by giving you a minimum spring size...I think NASCAR has done a great job of that...
Q: Are you all picking a stiffer spring so don't get caught..
CRAVEN: You darn well better...because it's too big of price. The truck series has not been affected as much yet. But the possibility does exist. It's a balance between trying to do what you can competitively but trying to be a little bit defensive...you just can't afford a 25 point penalty.
Q: Do you think this will change what we see in Talladega this weekend?
CRAVEN: No. What you probably won't see is decisions made without regard... a lot more consideration because of changes and repercussions...
Q: What were you able to learn while testing at St. Louis a couple of weeks ago?
CRAVEN: The track is an exciting track...I went to St. Louis with 50 team and Todd Kluever to test...I even drove his truck...It didn't take long for me to remember the preferred groove and the way around...I've race there once in (1997) race in Busch car qualified on front row...we blew a tire, but otherwise very competitive...we definitely looking forward to coming to St. Louis...I like the idea of going to St. Louis in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Q: What are your thoughts on one day shows.
CRAVEN: One of the things that I have had to get used to is the one day shows... It's all business... Not only do you need to find speed and focus hard on the race and not lose the importance of qualifying...But give the race absolute priority. Very interesting to watch the whole team...The approach is critical...You have to be organized...There are only so many sets of tires...You have to figure how many you can use and what will that leave me for the race. And that was something that didn't exist in Nextel Cup. So it's good. The Craftsman Truck Series has it going on. It's some of the best racing on television. I've gotten a lot of phone calls from people thanking me for giving them Sunday afternoons off. And the Friday night and Saturday night races are some of the best of the weekend.