NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Drag Racing, Sweet Trucks & Toyota’s Secret

We had a solid top-five run at Bristol. It was exciting to run there, especially on the new pavement at Bristol Motor Speedway. Well, actually the new concrete rather. Let me rephrase that. It’s a new concrete surface. Bruton Smith and all the staff at Bristol Motor Speedway did a terrific job designing the new surface. It was very exciting to run on. It kept the characteristics of Bristol but it was great to race there. Then we move on to St. Louis. Not necessarily the best run we’ve had at St. Louis. We had a tire going down and had to make a green-flag stop. We came back out and had to make up a lap but we got the lucky dog and came back and finished 11th. Still not a bad day’s work for the Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International race team and Circle Bar Racing and Kevin Starland, our crew chief. We’re still hanging in there.

Since the last diary we went to the NHRA U.S. Nationals and got to meet a lot of guys that are round-track fans and they got to meet me, which I’m a drag racing fan. I’m a big fan of the NHRA and I was there representing Ford Motor Company. I got to meet Don Prudhomme. John Force’s car with Robert Hight driving made it to the finals. It was neat to be there for a couple of days and really experience the full experience of NHRA drag racing. That was my first trip there, it was quite an experience and I look forward to going back again.

I’ve gotten to be pretty good friends with John Force and his team. We’re all part of the Ford camp. They race Ford Mustangs in the NHRA Funny Car ranks while we race Ford F-150s, the F-series pickups, in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We had an event where we were trying out some new 2008 vehicles in Dearborn at the Ford test facility and I was able to give Ashley Force a ride in a new Edge on the road course. I think she enjoyed it, especially letting a round-track guy do the driving. John told her before we went out, “Honey, you’ve got to let these round-track guys give you a ride on this road course because they like turning left and right.” John was pretty animated about that and it was a lot of fun and I think they really enjoyed it.

I’ve also recently been able to enjoy having the use of a Harley Davidson edition F-150. We introduced the pickup three months ago with Ford Motor Company at the Dearborn test track. It has a new supercharged 450-horsepower engine and it comes out in 2008. They sent me serial number 002 to drive for 45 days and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, especially tooling around Charlotte. It’s a looker. It’s got 22″s on it plus 450 horsepower and it’s a really sharp pickup.

Keeping up with Adam and his racing career, he went to Mobile and Pensacola over Labor Day weekend to run the Miller Lite doubleheader and was rained out at both events. The next event he’ll be participating in will be October 13th. But yesterday we took all three Circle Bar teams, the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel by International with David Starr, my No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel by International and Adam Crawford‘s Circle Bar Racing Ford Fusion to Caraway Speedway yesterday to be part of a test for our pickups. It was a neat day. We were proud of the way all the trucks ran and the cars and I told Mr. Mitchell today, all his equipment was running good yesterday.

This weekend we go to Loudon. I won there a couple of years ago. I wish we could repeat here pretty quick. We’re running out of time this year. We need to win a race. We need to win at least one, and I’d like to win more than that. We’re right around the corner from pulling off a win. I feel pretty confident about it. We’re doing everything we can to put the Ford F-series pickup in victory lane. Maybe this weekend, because Loudon is one of my favorite places to race. The fans there support the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. It’s also a weekend with the Cup guys there and the modified tour plus the Busch East Series so I’m looking forward to a great racing weekend.

Fan Question: Are Toyota’s getting some advantage such as horsepower or spoiler design compared to others?

No, but they’ve got all they need. Toyota Racing Development, I’ve got to hand it to them, they did their homework. They’re continuing to do their homework and they’re serious about every racing endeavor they’ve ever been in and I expected nothing less. From the moment they announced they would be entering the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, I said boy you don’t know what you’re getting in to. Here we are, we’ve been battling with Chevrolet and Dodge but the Toyota guys are going to come in here and they’re going to be serious about it. They’re going to sling a bunch of money around and they’re going to have some great drivers and good teams and they’re going to take this racing very, very seriously and that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve raised the bar for competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and now it’s up to us. It’s up to the guys that have been loyal to Ford, Chevy or Dodge to go out and compete against them week in and week out and do our best but they sure made it hard on us.

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