We ended the year in Homestead at Ford Championship Weekend without the finish we were looking for at all. It was just one of those things where the truck was running good through the day and then halfway through the race, we had a mechanical part failure inside the engine. I’m not looking at that as being a determining factor. We’ve used these particular Roush Yates engines for the last three years, and I think that’s only the second issue we’ve had with them. I think that’s a really commending story from a racecar driver and team to an engine builder. We hated that it happened in that particular race, but they’d been great engines up until then.
Rick Crawford drives the No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series. In his 12th full season, he’s currently sixth in the standings with six top fives and 11 top-10 finishes to show for his efforts in 2008. Every four weeks, he’ll also write a diary for Frontstretch to show how his on and off-track efforts are going. Here’s his latest entry, as told to Toni Montgomery.
We were on our way to Nashville last time I was here, and that weekend did not turn out at all the way we were hoping. Nothing went the way we wanted it to, and we just had one of those weeks where we were just off all weekend with our Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford F-150. We figured out pretty fast that we weren’t going to be bringing home that guitar trophy. We still finished on the lead lap, so it could have been worse — but it wasn’t at all the weekend we were looking for. The next race we had was another Tennessee race, and Bristol went a whole lot better for us.
I had some folks in from out of town for my birthday that used to help me early in my racing career and we still remain friends today. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had some friends come in from Mr. Mitchell’s family from southwest Texas, and Lisa and Michael Mitchell attended the birthday party. We had over 100 guests, I believe, and had a really nice time. Even the King performed in my backyard and that was cool. Not everybody can say that Elvis has performed in their backyard! We had a private band and we had a good time.
The last time I stopped by, we were on our way to Texas with the point lead. That didn’t last very long. We had a great truck at Texas and I was trying to take the win back to Ozona, Texas, for Tom Mitchell, the owner of the team, and to the Ford people because the F-150 is the number one selling truck in Texas. It ran good, but we just had a tire get cut down. We still finished on the lead lap and I think we were 20th or 21st, somewhere along in there, but we had a great truck and the win just slipped away from us.
Since the last time we talked, we raced at Charlotte at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. It was a long drive from the Circle Bar race team shops with the Ford Powerstroke Diesel–it was almost a ride you could have made in a golf cart. It’s our neighbor track and probably the home track for a lot of teams but it’s really close for our team. We came out of there with a top five and with a truck that had been resurrected from a big crash last year. It’s one of my favorite trucks, CB-21. We were pretty pleased with that.
We had a good points day at Kansas for the Ford Powerstroke Diesel by International No. 14 truck and got a top-10 finish in ninth. We tried something new. Our team tested in Pocono with Tony Raines driving and tried something new there. It’s just a point where Kevin Starland and the guys on the Circle Bar race team are getting this new package together and it will start showing dividends here pretty quick. We’ve never raced at Pocono before, but it’s a pretty good testing facility. The straightaways and the corners and all that let you try a lot of different elements out of a race.
Since the last time we talked, our team did a NASCAR official Truck Series test at Martinsville. The Ford Powerstroke Diesel ran well for two days, and the Maxx Force Diesel ran well for two days with Brendan Gaughan. Even Adam got a shot at driving the Ford Powerstroke Diesel for the first time, and handled it like a veteran. He put some speed up on the charts. I’m real proud of Adam, and I’d really like to thank everybody for having the confidence in him and the team for working behind him. He had a couple of sponsors to mention for the race at Martinsville, but his Dad and the car owner, Mr. Mitchell, decided not to let him race because I think he needs a little more racing experience. But we have to appreciate the people at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Ford Motor Company, and Roush Yates Engines, who were going to provide Adam with a chance to run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Maybe when Adam gets ready, they’ll have that chance again.
We ended last time by starting at Daytona. We were ready to go racing. Daytona Speedweeks is always exciting. It’s always great to be at the world center of racing. Leading up to the race, the Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150 was running great with Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International. We got ready to qualify, and qualified a little bit better than we expected because the truck that we took to Daytona is really good in race trim, and we knew how good it was. At the beginning of the race, I sort of got boxed in and there was no where to go. The inside line I was in sort of pushed me toward the back, so we hung around there for a little while. At Daytona, with the intake reducer on it, the racing is really close there for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series so at the beginning of the race we just kind of let the ranks get sorted out. That’s not necessarily my style, but we did.
We’re looking forward to starting out 2008 Friday night, live on Speed. I learned something today–I won the first Craftsman Truck Series race ever televised on Speed. That was the 2003 Daytona race and that was a great race. I was proud to hear that fact.