It’s no small feat to finish in the top 10 in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. But to do it less than 24 hours after being rushed to the hospital for a painful kidney stone is even tougher. Yet that’s exactly what Martin Truex Jr. did. Unsure late Saturday if he’d be able to race at all, Truex did pass the stone (an extremely painful process by all counts) and took the green flag. He also battled battery issues during the race but managed a solid 10th-place finish.
After taking an early season weekend off, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action Saturday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This weekend marks 50 years of racing at the 1.5-mile oval, and two of the Truck Series drivers will be celebrating milestones of their own.
You can’t fault Rick Crawford for being anxious to start tonight’s NextEra Energy Resources 250. After all, Crawford hasn’t won a Camping World Truck Series race in over two years, has only been behind the wheel for two practice sessions since the 2008 season finale at Homestead and is at the track where he has accumulated the most points of any driver over the past six seasons. While most fans associate Crawford with Daytona for his three-wide win in 2003, he has consistently been one of the series’ strongest drivers at the 2.5-mile track, scoring six top 10s in nine starts.
This year Driver Diary contributor Rick Crawford will take on the role of mentor to his new teammate, 18-year-old James Buescher (pronounced Busher) who takes over the wheel of the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel by International Ford F-150. Rick thought it might be interesting for his fans to get a different perspective and hear about the Camping World Truck Series from the point of view of his young protege for 2009. We welcome James as our new Driver Diary contributor and we hope our readers enjoy getting to know this very talented newcomer.
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.