This Week in Ford Racing November 1, 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 Ford F-150, has found a career in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, making 212 starts in 10 seasons of competition. Cook has...
This Week in Ford Racing
November 1, 2005
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Terry Cook, driver of the No. 10 Ford F-150, has found a career in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, making 212 starts in 10 seasons of competition. Cook has first-hand experience watching the series evolve from one that opened new markets in the Midwest and West to the current support-series format. Cook commented on the 2006 truck series schedule, the growth of the series and his career aspirations.
TERRY COOK-10-Ford Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l F-150
THE 2006 TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE WAS RELEASED A FEW WEEKS AGO. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGES FOR NEXT SEASON?
"I do like the fact that we are going to Talladega. I've been hoping that we would do that for quite some time, or go back to Daytona for a second time. We put a lot of effort into our Daytona program. All teams do, and it got to the point where they did away with road courses because they were afraid we were building specialty road course vehicles, but everybody did it. In essence, they would need to need to get away from all race tracks because you basically build a specialty vehicle to run at the speedways, the superspeedways, the intermediate tracks and the short tracks, just like you do at the Cup or Busch level. We were all basically building specialty vehicles for the season-opener at Daytona, just like you would for the road courses. Now to have a second venue to race that vehicle that usually just sat in the corner after the first race of the year, it's a pretty big deal. You might say that we're using the most of our money."
DOES IT SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN THE SERIES THAT NASCAR IS ALLOWING THE TRUCKS TO RACE AT TWO SUPERSPEEDWAYS?
"I definitely think so. All of you have to do is look at the top 15 in the current point standings, and probably all but about three of us have Cup experience. You've got a lot of veteran drivers in the series now. You still have some drivers that probably don't belong on superspeedways, but they have to learn somehow. If they can keep their nose clean and stay out of trouble, they'll continue to learn as we go along. I'm definitely glad to see Talladega put on the schedule, but I'm not in favor of the fact that they did away with Richmond to get Talladega because I think Richmond is a really neat race track. As a driver, all I've ever asked for from any race track that we go to is to have two grooves of racing. Let's put on a side-by-side race for the fans, and a lot of tracks that we go to we either don't have a second groove or it's real, real late in the race before we work in a second groove. Not to bad-mouth any tracks, but I can think of three to five right off the top of my head that don't put on very good racing because there is not a second groove. Richmond is the perfect track for not only a second groove, but sometimes even a third groove because you work so high up the track. I definitely hate to see that one go away."
THE FINAL THREE TRUCK RACES ARE TRIPLE-HEADER EVENTS WITH NEXTEL CUP AND THE BUSCH SERIES. DO THE TRUCK EVENTS - AND EVEN THE TRUCK SERIES FINALE - GET LOST DURING A THREE-EVENT WEEKEND?
"I've got mixed emotions on that. We are in the entertainment business, and if we go race on a companion Cup weekend, we all know what it's done for the Busch Series. The Busch Series, and nothing against anybody who races in that series or ever has, but it would not be what it is had they not had 30-plus weekends a year in companionship with Cup. The fact is that they grew with the NEXTEL Cup Series, and it's the same thing with the truck series. The point is you've got a lot of fans at the track for a Cup race weekend, and if they can see a couple of extra races while they're there, it makes it a pretty big weekend. On the other hand, we're racing on Friday, and our garage is compromised. It will be compromised at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, and we won't have but a slab of asphalt to work on the trucks, and these tracks aren't large enough to facilitate having three major touring series there. I like doing it because we get to perform in front of a larger group of people, but they haven't sat down and said, 'These are three of our national major touring series, and how can we truly accommodate all three of them?' At this juncture they can't. We're putting the show on for the fans and we're making it work, but it's not as easy as if we were there with IRL or it was just two major divisions. To have all three there I think it cramps the circumstances."
YOU MENTIONED THAT A LOT OF THE CURRENT TRUCK SERIES DRIVERS HAVE HAD CUP EXPERIENCE, BUT YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW THAT HASN'T HAD THAT OPPORTUNITY. WITH THE CURRENT LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN THE TRUCK SERIES ARE YOU SATISFIED STAYING IN ONE SERIES?
"I would love to have the opportunity to go Cup or Busch racing, and whatever the reason, maybe I don't sell myself good enough, I'm not sure, but I've never had the opportunity to try Cup racing. I have had an opportunity to do a few Busch races, and I kind of looked at them as though they weren't the caliber programs that I wanted to be with at that given time. I would definitely like to get a shot at the NEXTEL Cup Series, and I would definitely like to do it in a competitive manner. You have to understand my definition of competitive. Competitive for Jeff Gordon is running in the top 10 every single race. For me to go run the Cup Series with very little Cup experience, and depending on the ride that you're going to get into, my competitiveness might be from 20th to 30th. You have to take into consideration where you stack up and what your realistic goals might be. I would still love that opportunity, but I've just never had it."
IS IT MORE REALISTIC FOR YOU TO TRY TO GET TO THE BUSCH LEVEL?
"I think there are two factors why the Busch Series is more appealing to me. One, they race 35 races, which is 10 more times than the trucks, and as a racer I just love racing. Not only would I get to race 10 more times a year, but if I race on any one given weekend, I'm going to almost double the salary I'm going to make in a truck race. As you elevate your racing career, your pay scale increases two-fold. One thing I've been a very big advocate of in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is trying to get the pay scale increased. I don't know if it's NASCAR, the tracks, or who it is, but we need to get the pay scale to at least close to the Busch Series on a per-race basis. Their races aren't a whole lot different than ours, and their expenses aren't any different than ours. They do race 10 more races, but per-race expenses we're almost virtually the same, but we race for less than half of what they race for. That's two big, exciting factors to try and get to the Busch level. For one, to increase your pay scale, and the competition level is pretty neat and the fact you get to race 10 more times a year is pretty cool."
WITH THIS BEING THE FIRST TIME THAT THE TRUCK SERIES WILL RACE AT TEXAS WITH CUP AND BUSCH, DO YOU EXPECT ANY DIFFERENCES WITH THE TRACK CONDITIONS?
"When we were there with there IRL cars, when the sun goes down the track gets a lot of grip, which is what we're going to have here again. Typically on a Cup weekend they really work the groove up the track, and that's one thing we've always struggled with there. We don't have a real distinct second groove at Texas. We do have a second groove, and we can pass, but it's not like what you're used to seeing at Atlanta and tracks like that. On Busch-Cup weekends at Texas, by the time the Cup race comes around they really push the groove up high, so hopefully having them out there with us with help elevate our groove. The jury's out and we'll have to wait and see. You can get up top and pass, but just not as easily as you can at most tracks."