This Week in Ford Racing June 22, 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Following the first ever truck race on the Portland International Raceway road course, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series travels across the country to run on the famous Watkins...
This Week in Ford Racing June 22, 1999
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Following the first ever truck race on the Portland International Raceway road course, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series travels across the country to run on the famous Watkins Glen International course this weekend. Although still admittedly 'learning the ropes' in the truck series, Mike Stefanik will be returning to familiar grounds this weekend.
MIKE STEFANIK, #66 Carlin Burners & Controls Ford F-150: HAVE THERE BEEN ANY SURPRISES OR LESSONS LEARNED SINCE YOU CAME TO THE TRUCKS? "There have been a lot of lessons learned. A lot more lessons to be learned. It's been a learning experience. Every week is like a new racetrack I've never been to, the majority of them anyway. And then we're learning as a team, what I like and what I don't like. And learning some of the adjustments on the truck that really same to favor what I'm looking for. Even though lately our results haven't been exactly what we'd like to see, we've actually made quite a bit of strides. I'm hoping that the next few races, especially at Watkins Glen that we can rise up to the occasion, and get some good finishes going."
HOW WILL IT FEEL TO BE GOING BACK "HOME" TO WATKINS GLEN? "It's going to feel really wonderful going to Watkins Glen. Only because I've probably raced there as much as most of the guys perhaps in the truck series, or more than most. There are probably a few guys who have raced a lot there, especially if they throw in these road course ringers like (Ron) Fellows, Boris (Said) and those guys. They've been there a lot more than me. But as far as the regulars on the tour, I've probably had as much time there in the modifieds and the Busch North Series and also the Busch combination events. It will be a nice comfort level for me going there."
YOU HAVE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS AT WATKINS GLEN. "It's nice to go to a place where you've visited Victory Lane and/or qualified on the pole, showed good speed. You just have a positive feeling about going to a place that has been kind to you. You don't have quite that feeling going to a place that you've never seen before, especially when the other guys in the series have."
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR YOU HAD PLANNED TO DO A FEW BUSCH GRAND NATIONAL RACES. ARE YOU STILL GOING TO DO ANY BUSCH RACES? "No. That team actually dissolved. I was scheduled to run five races with them, and they were hoping to obtain some sponsorship and they didn't. And they had some health reasons that made the team basically go away. Prime Performance Motorsports is not fielding a Busch car. They were in the truck series last year, but like I said there were some family health problems they needed to take care of. Maybe they will come back to racing at a later time."
YOU HAVE LED THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINTS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON. HOW MUCH DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO GET THAT TITLE? "Well, as it gets tighter it means more. We had the lead, and I didn't really think much about it. I mean I think about it. I'm really happy USG has gotten involved in the Craftsman Truck Series and put a program together. It gives me something to shoot for as a personal goal. I'm just out of touch with all these racetracks. It's very frustrating to come from a place where you've been a front runner, and won a couple of championships. It's hard to come here and all of a sudden being a little fish in a big pond. I'm not saying I want to go back. I don't. I just want to get this learning curve over with. I want to get some experience. But there is no other way than racing each and every weekend. You're not allowed to test on the tracks you race at. Testing on other tracks really would not be the hot set-up either. I need to just do this series for a year. Our Ford truck is running really good. Our power is good. As a team, we've had a few things that have really taken away from what our program could have been. A top-five finish taken away with a spin with two to go by a couple of competitors. Some things that could really shine a light on some good things just really went away. This racing is not an easy game. It's not easy in any series, in any division at any level. So why should this be any different? Anything worth having is hard to get."