Circle Bar Racing's Thoughts on the NCTS 2009 Schedule
NASCAR released the 2009 race schedules for its three national touring series today, and while the Craftsman Truck Series will remain with a 25-race schedule, a race has been added at Chicagoland Speedway in late August, taking the place of the fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Circle Bar Racing teammates Rick Crawford and Brendan Gaughan shared their initial thoughts on the 2009 truck series schedule as the teams prepare for a Wednesday night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
RICK CRAWFORD—14—Ford Power Stroke Diesel by Int'l F-150 - WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2009 NASCAR TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE? "There's only one change, but that's OK. I hate that we're losing a second date at Atlanta. Atlanta is close to home, and it's a great race track and a nice facility down there, but if we were to lose Atlanta, I think that Chicago adds to the same style of racing, the same speed of race track and the same caliber of racing. I'm looking forward to going to Chicago for the first time. We've tested there many times, but testing is not racing, so I'm looking forward to having a race there, especially with it being in the backyard of International and Navistar."
IN YOUR OPINION, DID NASCAR ADDRESS ALL OF THE ISSUES WITH THE SCHEDULE?
"There's one thing about racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Not only does it go back to the roots of Saturday night short-track racing, but it also lends itself to racing at Daytona and Talladega. To become a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver, you've got to be highly versatile. That's what made this series in the beginning and that's what's keeping it going today. We could race all the mile-and-a-halfs and the big venues and be accompanied by the Cup and Nationwide Series, but I think the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has its own value with regards to the race tracks that it goes to."
WHEN THE TRUCK SERIES GOES TO CHICAGOLAND NEXT YEAR, IT WILL BE WITH THE IRL. ARE THOSE WEEKENDS BETTER FOR THE SERIES THAN THE COMPANION EVENTS WITH CUP? "I don't look at being second fiddle or whether we're a Friday race, Saturday race or Sunday race. We have our own competition. Our competition is great and it's some of the best in NASCAR. We go about it in our own way. It's different. We don't follow another act. We're half the distance. We know we have to get the job done because we don't have many chances to overcome a mistake. We don't make a ton of pit stops, maybe one or two or three depending on the length of the race. Going into every race we know that we need a near-perfect night to have a chance to win, and I think the fans enjoy watching and appreciate that kind of racing."
IS THE 25-RACE SCHEDULE THE RIGHT FORMULA FOR THE TRUCK SERIES? "I think so. What makes the Craftsman Truck Series favorable to owners is that we don't do the 34 or 36 races a year. I think it saves the owners some money. It also helps you on your employees and your expenditures. All of it has to do with money, but you can see the definite things that it does helps. It also attracts the drivers to the series. You get some of the senior competitors that want to race here, but it also attracts the upstarts as far as our rookie class is concerned. It attracts all of them because our schedule is what I would call a relaxed schedule with only 25 races, and that's what makes it favorable for most competitors."
IT'S A CLOSE POINTS RACE IN THE TRUCK SERIES, BUT IS THERE A NEED FOR A CHASE-STYLE FORMAT? "Well, if they turn it into the Chase I'd be in it. As long as I'm in the Chase format, I'm all for it."
HOW WOULD YOU BREAK IT DOWN? "Why don't they do 20 and five?"
IS THAT A GOOD IDEA? "I think it's a great idea. It would add that little bit of extra excitement to the series, especially the last five races. If somebody, like Johnny (Benson) having won five out of the last six races, that format would sorta put everyone on a level playing field with five races to go and it gets all the excitement in. I think you have to do it for the fans, but if I was leading the points and I had a 200- or 300-point lead, I wouldn't want to see it. I wouldn't want to see everybody and I'd like to go with a season-long championship because that's what champions are built of - a season long accumulation of points, not the last five races or the last 10 races. But, if the fans would vote for something like that or NASCAR would go for it, I'm
all for it."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN—10—Maxx Force Diesel Ford F-150 - WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2009 NASCAR TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE? "I like the addition of Chicagoland to the schedule, but I think it hurts the teams a little bit because that was only mile-and-a-half track that we could test on. By taking that away from us, we don't have a mile-and-a-half venue we can test. But, I think that Chicago is a market that we need to be in. It's a great race track, especially for me and the Circle Bar team. It's my style of track that we've done really well at. The organization as a whole has done really well at those mile-and-a-half-style places, so it should be good for us as a team."
IN YOUR OPINION, DID NASCAR ADDRESS ALL OF THE ISSUES WITH THE SCHEDULE? "I think we were all kinda hoping maybe for Iowa. You could haven taken one of the other short tracks off and put on Rusty Wallace's Iowa Speedway and hit the same market area, and it's a beautiful brand new facility. But putting Chicago on, that's another mile-and-a-half and a big track, and that's more my style, so I like what they've done and maybe we'll add Iowa in 2010."