Raudman Ready for SRL Opener REDDING, CALIF. (March 25, 2008) Champions never really ever get comfortable sitting on the sidelines. While they adjust to new roles, their heart longs to be back in the game. That is certainly true of former ...
Raudman Ready for SRL Opener
REDDING, CALIF. (March 25, 2008) Champions never really ever get comfortable sitting on the sidelines. While they adjust to new roles, their heart longs to be back in the game. That is certainly true of former Southwest Tour champion Craig Raudman of Redding, Calif., who for the better part of the last five years has spend more time turning wrenches then turning the wheel of his favorite Southwest Tour car. That will end Saturday night as Raudman returns to full-time action as the Flashco SRL Southwest Tour Series opens up the 2008 season with a 100-lap clash at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif.
Raudman has been perfect in his previous two SRL starts capturing both the fast time award and winning the race. And though he aims for the trifecta on Saturday, he will have to contend with a stout field of drivers led by defending series champion and his new teammate for '08, Dave Byrd.
'I am pumped up to get back to racing,' Raudman said. 'I love this type of car (Southwest Tour car) and getting back to the track and racing against a lot of my friends is going to be special. I have missed battling side-by-side with guys like (M.K.) Kanke and (Jim) Pettit. Having Dave Byrd as my teammate this year is going to be a lot of fun a well. Dave is one of the best on tracks like AAS and I hope for a one two finish at each race. Me winning of course.'
Raudman enters the season driving for new car owner Bob Strandwold of Modesto, Calif., whose two-car effort will look to keep the rest of the field in the rearview mirror and back up last year's title. 'I am thrilled to be driving for Bob,' Raudman continued. 'Bob has given us everything we have needed, from testing to parts. I feel real good about the opportunity ahead of us and a victory on Saturday is our goal.'
Reuniting with Raudman will be many of the team members who guided him to his NASCAR championship back in 2001 along with a couple of guests like 1986 NASCAR Southwest Tour champion Ron Esau. 'A lot of the guys I have worked with over the years are back with me this season and that gives me a lot of confidence,' Raudman said. 'My longtime friend and spotter Dave Reed is back, along with Ron Copeland calling the shots on the pit box.'
Though it is a new season, the car Raudman will be driving is one he is familiar with. It is the same car he drove in the final Tour race at Phoenix back in '06 where he finished third and the same car that propelled him to victory in his only SRL start last season. 'I am feeling real good about our chances this year,' Raudman stated. 'We are going to focus on having fun and going fast. The rest will take of itself.'
In Raudman's 160 Southwest Tour starts (NASCAR and SRL combined) he has 17 victories, 31 Quick Time Awards, 60 Top 5 finishes, and 91 Top 10 finishes. Raudman is going for three straight victories in his last three SRL starts.
Raudman will be driving a Chevrolet with sponsorship from Performance Electrical Company, Approved Memory, J&S Plastering, ERC Fuels, Redline Oil, Swendeman Hardware, Ringers Gloves, and NGK Spark Plugs.
The adage that everything old is new again and that may be exactly what is on Craig Raudman's mind. Standing in victory lane with family and friends will seem just like old times.
The Flashco/Qdoba Southwest Tour Series '100' is set to take the green flag at 7:00 pm PT Saturday night as part of the NAPA Autocare '150' weekend at the fast quarter-mile paved oval of All American Speedway.