THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 13, 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kevin Cywinski, who started his NASCAR Truck Series career mid-way through the 1998 season, and posted his best finish of ninth at Bristol, has surprised a lot of people...
THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 13, 1999
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Kevin Cywinski, who started his NASCAR Truck Series career mid-way through the 1998 season, and posted his best finish of ninth at Bristol, has surprised a lot of people this year. The Wisconsin native started the season off with a sixth at Homestead and followed that up with a ninth at Phoenix. He is currently seventh in the point standings. Cywinski talks about what the team has done to get ready for 1999, how his team compares with the better financed teams on the circuit, and what he feels the future holds.
KEVIN CYWINSKI - 31 - Auto Trim Design Ford F-150: "We spent the off-season really looking at some of the problems we had last year. When I came to this team last year they were running 11th in points. The first few races we ran really strong, at Bristol and Topeka. So we assessed where things went wrong and tried to fix the problems. We got a new motor program with Tri Star Motors, and I think we addressed the right areas."
WOULD ADDITIONAL SPONSORSHIP HELP? "Definitely. I hate using the terms a low-dollar team or underfunded, but more sponsorship help would give this team would give this team a great boost and definitely be an asset to this team."
THEN HOW CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE WAY YOU HAVE RUN SO FAR THIS YEAR? "We only have three trucks right now ready to go. We have two brand new ones we are trying to put together, but that is hard to do during the season. More sponsorship would mean maybe a little bit more help back at the shop. We only have one guy who stays back at the shop, and tries to keep up with things that happen to us on the road, and working on the trucks. But it's been good so far since the start of the year. We haven't had any major problems, haven't tore anything up so we are able to stay ahead. More sponsorship help would give us the assurance that we are ahead of the game instead of trying to stay equal with it or one step behind it. It would definitely give us more help at the shop and more tools to keep making steps forward."
DO YOU WORK AT THE SHOP? "Yeah, I'm there full time at the shop, and if the team is out on the road I usually stay out and work with the team. At the race track, my duties when I'm not driving is to make sure the brake system is right. If there is anything with the braking, I fix it or go through it. I can do motor work if Tri Star doesn't send an engine guy for us, like at Monroe. I maintain the motors, and basically I can fill in if we're short handed anywhere. It's a good asset. I grew up owning my own equipment, and do everything from sweeping the floors to actually rebuilding the motors. I've had a lot of experience so I can help the team out."
IN FACT YOUR (FIANCEE) TRACI (SHIVERSKI) WORKS WITH YOU IN THE SHOP. "Yes. With my ASA team for two years my fiancée was the catch-can person every race. Last week up in Washington we were a little shorthanded. I did the motor work, and Traci was the catch-can person at Monroe. It's funny, if anybody comes by the shop usually they will see her there cleaning parts, or painting or doing something, whatever she can do to help. It is strictly volunteer on her part. It's fun because she supports me 100%, and she loves the sport."
COMPARE BREVAK RACING TO ONE OF THE TEAMS AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN. "We've got a couple friends that work for Hendrick. They tell me they have 16 guys working on that truck, just the trucks. We've got six. Last year we ran the whole season with just three trucks. This year we got two new trucks. They're not done yet, but we're hoping to have them done for the road courses and the speedways. That is what they are designated for. I think that the Hendrick team or the Ultra team have eight or ten trucks. They do a lot of in-house bodies where they can hang sides and fix things. We have to farm that out. If we could hire guys to do that in-house and if we had a problem where we tore a side up we could put a side on it, and maybe do the bodywork at the shop. That would keep us a little bit further ahead. Otherwise, we have to get in line behind the other teams that have to farm that work out. That just puts us behind schedule. It always makes us chasing the other teams instead of one of the other teams they are chasing."
EVEN THOUGH THERE STILL A COUPLE OF TRACKS YOU HAVEN'T SEEN, REALISTICALLY WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BALANCE OF THE SEASON HOLDS FOR YOU AND THE TEAM? "It's really hard to predict the future, but in the beginning of the year we sat down as a team, and we set goals. We figured we could win one race, and finish in the top-ten in points. Coming from where we ended up last year in points, we felt the top-ten was a long ways away. But it was something where we looked back at where we had problems, and where we were running when we had the problems, and thought a top-ten is realistic. We feel we can run in the top-ten. I think we've showed we have the potential to do that. As far as myself for the future, it's hard to say. I love racing, and this team is really a good team. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but right now there aren't a lot of expectations for our team because of where it has finished in points in the past. I think we're opening some eyes here the beginning of this year, and it's fun."
KEVIN CYWINSKI MAY BE A SPOILER. "Yeah. (Smiling) Of the tracks we haven't seen, Homestead was one of them. And that was our best finish ever, this year or last year. We feel confident that we can go anywhere and run."
Kevin "The Kid" Harvick joined Liberty Racing during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series off-season. This past weekend he recorded his best-ever finish in NCTS competition with a second place at his home track, Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California. Harvick was the 1998 Winston West champion and has a late model championship at Mesa Marin Raceway to his credit.
KEVIN HARVICK -98- Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford F-150: "Liberty Racing did an excellent job over the winter. They had a really, really tough year last year. Basically, over the winter they had no trucks. I went over there in December when I was looking to move on. I remember when Kenny Irwin drove the truck they had excellent equipment, won a few races and were top-ten in points. I went in there and Roland Wlodyka came up to me and said, we don't have much right now but just a couple trucks. And here we are. It's one of those deals where you go in and you have nothing, but circumstances work themselves out."
LAST WEEK AT MESA MARIN YOU QUALIFIED WELL AND JUMPED UP RIGHT BEHIND RON HORNADAY. EVEN THOUGH HE LED MOST OF THE LAPS HE HAD YOU RIGHT ON HIS BUMPER MOST OF THE WAY. THE LAST 25 LAPS WERE PRETTY EXCITING. THERE WAS SOME PAINT EXCHANGED AND SOME BUMPING. TAKE US THROUGH THOSE LAST LAPS AND HOW RICK CARELLI CAUGHT UP TO THE LEAD PACK. "We probably should have come in and got tires for the Porter-Cable Ford, but it was one of those deals where Ron stayed out, we stayed out and Dennis (Setzer) stayed out behind us, and the guys behind us really had nothing to lose. I think Rick came out eighth. Ron and I got to racing pretty hard, and we were both pretty much out of tires. The only way I was going to get past him was to wedge him off the bottom. I think everybody watching truck races knows that Ron Hornaday is pretty tough to get by. That's the reason he's won so many. I looked up in the mirror one lap, and there was Rick Carelli and there he went. It turned out good for us. Me and Ron had a lot of fun racing. It was one of those deals. I think our time is coming in the near future to win races, and we just have to run like that every week."
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH RON HORNADAY. I KNOW YOU STAYED WITH HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE WHEN YOU WERE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO LIVE IN MOORESVILLE. I BELIEVE HE HAS BEEN A MENTOR OF YOURS SINCE YOU STARTED DRIVING. "I grew up watching Ron Hornaday race on the west coast. He has always been kind of an idol. He has really taken me under his wing this last year and a half or so. He was really the one that got this whole deal with Liberty working. Ron has really been a big help to me in my career. He is pretty much the one who got me from last year to this year and the huge stepping stone I took in my career."
HE ROUGHED YOU UP A LITTLE BIT A MESA MARIN A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHEN YOU TRIED TO GET BY HIM. THIS YEAR YOU KIND OF RETURNED THE FAVOR. WHAT DID YOU SAY TO EACH OTHER AFTER THE RACE? "I think the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is such a tough place to race. That's short track racing. If anybody watched after the race when we got out of the trucks we went over and gave each other a little hug, and said that's the way it goes. That's racing and that's how we race. We aren't going to crash each other. That's how we were brought up to race. And that's part of the series. It was a good clean race to us. We aren't mad at each other. It was just a racing deal."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO GETTING AROUND MARTINSVILLE? HOW TOUGH IS IT FOR THE TRUCKS? "Martinsville is one of those places where brakes mean everything. NASCAR put in the pit stops so I think tires are still going to be an issue. You come in and get them when you need 'em. The main key to Martinsville is keeping everything underneath you, keeping the brakes underneath you. It is another one of those places where it is going to be good short-track racing again."
THE TRUCKS ARE TESTING ON WEDNESDAY AT MARTINSVILLE. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GET OUT OF THAT? "It's a short flat track for us, and we didn't do much testing over the winter on flat tracks. They have prepared me a Laughlin truck for this race. We're just looking to get everything situated out this Wednesday, and hopefully go into Friday getting ready to qualify and go into the race after getting all the bugs worked out Wednesday."
SINCE YOU CUT YOUR RACING TEETH ON THE SHORT TRACKS WHERE THERE IS A LOT OF BUMPING AND RUBBING, DOES A SHORT TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE PLAY TO YOUR FAVOR? "I don't know if I feel any more comfortable leaning on anybody. It is just kind of the nature of the short tracks. At Liberty Racing all of our stuff is pretty comfortable no matter where we go. It kind of goes back to this is where I cut my teeth, and I can feel a little more comfortable right off the bat. I guess you could say it is a little more comfortable on the short tracks."
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT GOING FOR THE WINSTON WEST CHAMPIONSHIP AND RACING IN THE TRUCK SERIES AT THE SAME TIME? "The two vehicles really aren't that much different, the same motors and the same weight, and at a bunch of the races we run the same tires. The back and forth travel between the two series was what killed me. The traveling and different practice sessions on different days. It really kind of took away from both series. We skipped the Southwest Tour race this past week in order to concentrate on the trucks and I think it paid off. I think I taught myself a lesson last year, and I kind of took it as a learning experience. This weekend we did pretty well in the trucks."
GIVEN THE FACT YOU ARE SO YOUNG, IS THIS A SEASON YOU NEED TO GAIN RESPECT FROM YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS, OR DO YOU THINK YOU ALREADY HAVE IT? "I think I gained respect last year. I got to race with them a little bit. Just being consistently in the top group of guys, you still have that little respect factor that you have to learn and get from everybody. It's just that consistent respect from each individual that runs up front every week that we have to overcome. I think it's there. It's just they are going to have to reassure themselves of it."
PRIOR TO THIS PAST WEEKEND YOUR BEST FINISH WAS A FOURTH AT TEXAS. SO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE ON THE SUPER SPEEDWAYS TOO. "I think a lot of that comes from the go-karts we used to run. Even on the road courses we did fairly well and on the speedways. I think that is one thing the go-karts taught me. It made it a lot easier to adapt. With the stuff these guys have got underneath me, and the motors we have this year, we're looking forward to going speedway racing."
DO YOU THINK THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF GOING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? "We dug ourselves a hole the first couple of races, and we're still trying to come out of that. If Hornaday doesn't have some bad luck it is going to be tough to catch him and Stacy Compton. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing and keep running in the top-ten, and the wins will come and the points will come."