For the second consecutive week, rain showers forced the cancellation of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying. The field for tomorrow's O'Reilly 400K at Texas Motor Speedway was therefore set by the NASCAR rulebook, and with 36 competitors,...
For the second consecutive week, rain showers forced the cancellation of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying. The field for tomorrow's O'Reilly 400K at Texas Motor Speedway was therefore set by the NASCAR rulebook, and with 36 competitors, no teams were forced to pack up early.
Rick Crawford, who along with fellow Ford driver Terry Cook are the only two drivers to have competed in all 10 previous Craftsman Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, will start second in tomorrow's 167-lap race. Cook, a four-time winner on the circuit last season, will start from the eighth position.
Heading into this weekend's seventh race of the season, Crawford, who won the season-opening event at Daytona, trails first-place Bobby Hamilton by 43 points in the point standings, while Cook sits 92 points out of the top five.
TERRY COOK -29-Power Stroke Diesel/Oil Mate Ford F-150:
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING HERE WITH THE RACE BEING 167 LAPS, 250.5 MILES?
"I personally think it's a bummer no matter where you're at. Fortunately, we're in the top 10 in points which gives us a decent starting position. We come into the weekend wanting to qualify, and we feel like we have a good qualifying package no matter where we are. Dover was very disappointing because we thought we had a shot at the pole. We hadn't got a chance to strut our stuff here yet for the pure fact that we got two laps on the track and we don't know where we stack up. I'm a little disappointed. I like to come here and qualify and at least challenge for a good pit stall selection."
WITH THE PROBLEMS YOU ENCOUNTERED LAST WEEK AND THE SUBSEQUENT 20TH-PLACE FINISH, DID YOUR TEAM NEED QUALIFYING TODAY TO BUILD SOME POSITIVE MOMENTUM BEFORE THE RACE?
"We sure did, and that's just it. If you had a good, solid qualifying effort, a good, solid top-five, it does pump everybody up. With the past two weeks that we've had, we're looking for anything we can to build the momentum back in this program and get everybody enthused. We're enthused because we're racers and we want to win races and we know we have a team to win races, but you still need that shot in the arm every now and then to prove and solidify what you already know - the fact that we have a winning team here."
THERE WAS ONLY LIMITED PRACTICE TODAY, BUT WERE YOU ABLE TO NOTICE ANY DISPARITIES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS HERE?
"We pulled onto the track and got about four laps out there right before the rain came and we had the wrong gear in the truck. That really surprised us; we're not sure what the deal is there. We run here twice a year and traditionally you run one or two gears here. We're two or three gears off of what we usually run here. We're in a gear that we've never run here before, so when we were trying to get the truck up to speed we found out that we didn't have enough gear in it. We're putting some gear in it now that should liven up the Power Stroke Diesel Ford. It really surprised us. It's even a surprise to some of the guys that tested here. I see some of the Chevrolet teams that tested here less than a month ago, and they're changing gears, too. I'm not sure if it's the weather conditions or what the story is, but it's kind of caught everybody off guard."
THE TRACK HAS NOT UNDERGONE ANY CHANGES FROM LAST YEAR. DO YOU EXPECT THE TRACK CONDITIONS TO BE BETTER THAN LAST YEAR?
"The track has changed a lot over the years. They've repaved it and repaved it and repaved it. The best thing that they could do is quit paving it. They've done that now and you always have the best racing when the asphalt cures. I think it will be a better race because of that. I think that having a lot of laps here does help us. We have a good feel for what the trucks do at a certain point on the track here. For the race, you basically set the truck up so that it's good and secure underneath you, but you start pushing like a freight train up off the corners late in the race. Having raced here a bunch, we know that and have a good feel of what the truck will do during a race run. I think having a lot of races here like Rick (Crawford) and I have is an advantage, but there are a lot of guys here who aren't afraid to stand on the loud pedal all the way around this place."
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ROOKIES IN TOMORROW'S RACE, AND WITH THE LACK OF PRACTICE TIME TODAY DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE A HIGH NUMBER OF CAUTIONS?
"There will be if people don't use their heads. This is a race where you have to be calm. From my perspective sitting in the driver's seat, this seems like our longest race of the year. It's 167 laps on a mile-and-a-half track; it's a long race. It's a night race, but there's a lot of attrition here just due to engine and drivetrain failures. For guys that don't have a lot of laps here, it is a little bit leery for them when a guy comes up on them two seconds faster. NASCAR has the minimum speed rule and that's important here. The main thing is getting to the end of the race and let the field get spread out and let everyone start out by racing the race track. That's traditionally what you do here at Texas. You don't worry about racing the competition until there's 50 or 60 laps to go. You have to put the first 100 laps away before you can even start thinking about racing the competition. You need to make sure you're running in the top 10, you can't just roll over, play dead and go a lap down, but this track is so hard on equipment for the truck series that we need to make sure that we're there at the end."