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Circle Bar Racing Press Conference Transcript: Daytona Test

Rick Crawford and Brendan Gaughan will lead Circle Bar Racing into the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season with Crawford in his familiar No. 14 Power Stroke by International Ford F-150 and Gaughan in the No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford F-150. Both drivers held a Q&A session this afternoon during the first day of NCTS testing at Daytona International Speedway.

RICK CRAWFORD – No. 14 Power Stroke by International Ford F-150
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2008? “I feel pretty good now. I didn’t feel good probably 30 minutes ago, but we’ve come up with something and picked up a half-second, so the 14 Circle Bar Ford, Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International F-150 is always performing and always fun to drive. We brought four different trucks here, two for Brendan and two for myself. We brought one as far as a piece of equipment that’s been in the stable for quite a while. It won here at Daytona and ran second at Talladega and it’s our baseline truck. We brought one that I would consider an outlaw truck that’s bent, it’s in the gray area and is experimental, but brand new. And then we’ve got Brendan in some positive equipment that should be as good as both of mine. All four should be the same. In fact, Kevin Starland said before we came down here that we don’t have any primary trucks and we don’t have any backup trucks. We’re gonna come back to win this Daytona 250 and we’re gonna race the two best trucks. I feel like all of our trucks, the Ford 150s at Circle Bar Racing, are contenders this year. I’ve got to get back in Victory Lane. I want to see the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel by International in Victory Lane. I want to see Brendan back happy again in racing and that would be a success this year.”

THIS IS NOT THE SAME 10 TEAM THAT WAS IN YOUR SHOP LAST YEAR. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT? “When the season was over, between myself, Lisa Karnes and Tom Mitchell, we didn’t know if the 10 team would return in 2008. We were trying to put something together among 65 call-in drivers that would like to drive a top-10 in the points truck. I had five actual drivers that we chose that all parties were happy with. That’s not to say that the other 55 drivers were not class in their own right. They were and they were all respected as far as calling to give resumes for that job. All of them probably deserve that job. Brendan Gaughan had a relationship with his crew chief, Bryan Berry. He brought some of his guys over to Circle Bar Racing. I think with the merger, not necessarily in business, but the merger as far as teamwork is concerned between Circle Bar Racing and Southpoint Racing, I probably never seen a happier bunch of guys from the hard work. I’ve got a partner over here in Brendan Gaughan that I want to see run good this year, so he’s got all of our support. I can say that when we started pointing fingers, we pointed at Brendan and Mr. Gaughan and the efforts that they’ve put in because this 10 team, as noted last year with David Starr as the driver, was never a development team. It’s a team that’s put in place to enhance the performance of the 14 truck, the Ford F-150. We’re here to win a championship and here for Brendan to have some success.”

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford F-150 –
HOW DO YOU FEEL PARTNERING WITH RICK CRAWFORD? “He’s always been one of my best buddies out here. People forget that my first race win was at Texas and the whole reason I won it was because Rick lifted back in the old race to the caution days to gain my lap back.” (CRAWFORD INTERJECTS) “I regret that today.” (GAUGHAN CONTINUES.) “I don’t. Thanks. But he’s always been one of my best friends out there and back when I first started, old Mr. Crawford was one of the big sources of information for me – always trying to help. At Homestead he came up to me and said, ‘I heard you’re not really excited about what’s going on,’ and I didn’t really know what was going on quite yet at the time, and I called him after Thanksgiving and just said, ‘I sure would like to get on that list.’ Really, it wasn’t anything that we did. I appreciate him thanking my dad and thanking me and all that, but, really, he did us a big favor. The South Point Racing Team unfortunately had to close due to unfortunate circumstances. Rick Crawford is my hero and about half of the guys in my shop, he’s their hero. They were out looking for a job in NASCAR at a very, very difficult time to look for a job and Rick had the positions open. Me and Bryan have worked really, really well together the last year-and-a-half, and Rick had spots open so my boys were able to go there. It’s not like it’s the South Point Racing Team over there, it’s just a bunch of guys from my team and his team. What was neat was the first day I walked in the shop was about a week ago. I walked in and asked Bryan a couple of questions and asked Cowboy a couple of questions, and every truck out there had no numbers on them. It was the same way I ran mine back when Steve Park drove for us. He just said, ‘They’re trucks. Whichever ones are the best ones are the ones we’ll take.’ Unfortunately, I don’t quite fit in Rick’s seat as well, but I did fit. It was rather amusing seeing chubby guy in the seat, but I fit in them and I appreciate him even just bringing my guys. It was probably one of the toughest off seasons I’ve ever had in my life. It’s probably one of the toughest couple of months I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks to Mr. Mitchell and Lisa and Rick – it does bring a tear to my eye though. But they really stepped up for me and my family and my guys, and I really appreciate it for my guys.”

RICK CRAWFORD – “For Christmas every year, my son visits his mom in Alabama so there aren’t very many family or friends in North Carolina you visit Christmas with, so I go on a little trip to Las Vegas. I pulled up in the parking lot at the South Point Hotel because we stay at Mr. Gaughan’s property out there, and go to walk up where the valets park the cars or where you get out to valet your car. I don’t do that. I’m a little cheap so I park in the parking lot. I was walking up with my luggage and I stopped because it says, ‘South Point Casino Welcomes CBR!’ It’s Christmas and it’s vacation time and they’re already talking about Circle Bar Racing. I had no idea it was Championship Bull Riding, so we’re Built Ford Tough in Championship Bull Riding and at Circle Bar Racing.”

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF BEING IN A TWO-TRUCK OPERATION? “The nice part is that Rick Crawford has a great association with Ford Motor Company. He’s driven Fords probably his entire racing life. As long as I’ve been reading about the Mitchell family and Circle Bar Racing it’s been Ford. So they’re very, very deeply entrenched with the engineering aspects of Ford. They’re very deeply entrenched with all the information there and the nice thing is the 10 team with the International MaxxForce Diesel is sponsored, and the Circle Bar Racing Ford is sponsored. So you have two sponsored teams, manufacturer backing, and you can’t lose when you come like that. My two trucks here have a certain setup on them that Bryan and Cowboy wanted to start with. One of them is similar to Rick’s truck and one of them is different and we’re trying different things.

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – “Rick just found a way to gain a bunch of speed. We found something else that gained about a tenth, so we’re gonna incorporate both things back and forth through information sharing. Unfortunately in racing now without testing, you know NASCAR limits our testing like basically we can’t, so that was the big advantage of the old testing ways – at least you could get double the information. Now, what few tests we get, you really have to have crew chiefs work with each other and Bryan and Kevin are sharing an office. They work together and they work with each other and they both seem to get along really well. They’ve known each other from before, so that’s the biggest thing is it’s a bunch of people that work well together, not people coming in and don’t like this and that. Everybody works well together, likes each other and when they find something, we’ll get to use it. We’re going down a different path and when we find it, they’ll get to use it. Then you make the final answer when it comes to the race.”

RICK CRAWFORD – IT SEEMS CHEVROLET AND TOYOTA HAVE DOMINATED THE LAST COUPLE YEARS. HOW DO YOU BREAK THROUGH? “Work hard. Those guys have been doing their homework. They have excellent teams on the race track, good factory support. I had a 2008 opening speech the other day at my shop with all the 43 employees at Circle Bar Racing and I learned a long time ago that races are won and lost in the shop – not here at Daytona, not here at testing, not here at the race, not at Talladega, not at Loudon, not at Las Vegas, not at Homestead. They’re won at the race shop. If these trucks are prepared with their knowledge and expertise, and we keep our eye on our competitors, we’ve got a shot at the championship here at Circle Bar Racing. It just takes a lot of hard work. We’ve got Roush Yates Engines under the hood. There are none any better. We’ve got good chassis, good equipment, good inventory and we’ve got great teams. That’s what we’ve got to do, just keep working hard.”

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – “I thought Mark Martin looked pretty darn good in a Ford for a little while and Roush has had some good runs in Fords. I remember getting my butt kicked by a Ford when I was driving for my other manufacturer, so they’re still around. I’m not worried about it. I was excited to have it.”

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE WYLER DEAL AND WERE YOU WORKING ON OTHER THINGS? “I was gonna be a skiing instructor in Vail, Colorado at Vail Mountain. I had the job all lined up for me and it was looking really nice. I was kind of excited about it. If it wasn’t for Rick Crawford, that’s where I’d be because I definitely wasn’t gonna go pitch cards.” HOW BAD DO YOU WANT TO WIN HERE? “I can tell you from wanting to be here, I remember back in 2003 we were running our Dodges and Rick and I went to Germany together. And this crazy fool jumped in a truck at Ramstein Air Force Base – a big old truck that said ‘Follow Me’ like for the airplanes. Rick jumped in that thing and said, ‘Look, this is my truck at Daytona.’ I said, ‘OK, partner.’ That year I think I followed him for about 40 laps and we told his spotter, Sonny, Billy Holbrook told Sonny I said, ‘I ain’t moving.’ I said I was following my wing man and him and I stayed one and two for most of the race. We had a great pit stop, beat everybody out of the pits, led the race until we basically ran out of gas. That was a phenomenal year and watching that finish was fantastic. To me, the only thing that would make it better is if I could push Rick Crawford to a win in Alabama because I know Talladega would be the cream of the crop, like my Vegas, so I’d love to do that. For me to be able to say I’m driving for Circle Bar Racing to get them another victory at Daytona, to get my own victory at Daytona in my first time ever in a Ford, having Roush Yates Engines, that’s pretty impressive when you jump into a Ford and get the best engine manufacturer out there. I’d love to do it and it doesn’t bother me, I’d push him in second and stay right with him to make sure we both won it. I don’t care either way because, for me, that’s a ‘W’.”

RICK CRAWFORD – WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN HERE? “Believe it or not, we have it planned that year. We did make a joke about it in Germany, but we had that planned. It was myself, Mike Wallace and Brendan Gaughan that were gonna work together that year. We were all with different manufacturers but we were all working together that year because we were all independent teams. Believe it or not, with 10 laps to go we were running one-two-three. What did it mean to me? It means everything to win here at Daytona, the World Center of Racing. It’s what you dream about as a kid. That’s why we’re here. When the green flag drops, you want to win. When the checkered flag falls, you dream about coming back here next year to try to win again. Daytona is everything.”

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AT THIS TEST? “Speed. Driveability in the draft. You’ve got to get a race package. With the impound rules with NASCAR and qualifying, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot, but you need something that will draft with a good attitude and something that you can move around in traffic that doesn’t lose many spots. You’re looking for a combination of aero, handling and comfort for the driver, where the driver can do his job and keep thinking and focusing all day on winning.”

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AT THIS TEST? “Go fast. On my side, we’re not forgetting the performance factor. The good thing is we talked about teammates, he’s got the performance factor right now. We’re just trying to get my team, which has some new guys from his team, has some old guys from his team, has some guys from my team all mixed into one place. We’re trying to get the chemistry and make sure everybody knows who is on the right-front, who is on the left-front, who is on the rear, who is doing tire temps, who is doing tire pressures. It’s a comfort zone thing for our race team and Bryan Berry right now, with a little bit of performance mixed in. But as long as we’ve got a teammate that’s all-out performance, we think that’s the purpose of being teammates and it’ll work out.”

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