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NASCAR Trucks: Ford drivers ready for challenge of Daytona

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Last year's Craftsman Truck Series season opener at Daytona was arguably one of the most exciting of SpeedWeeks. The race, which was ultimately won by Mike Wallace, is remembered as much for the accident involving Geoffrey Bodine as for its exciting finish and 31 lead changes. Terry Cook, who started the race in 32nd position before making his way up to fourth by the finish, was one of the participants involved in the lap 57 incident, but he was able to squeeze his way through and avoid substantial damage.

TERRY COOK --29-- K Automotive Ford F-150 - WHAT WERE THE OPENING LAPS LIKE IN LAST YEAR'S TRUCK RACE? "From my perspective, with the team I was with, we broke a ring in qualifying and had to take a provisional and started almost last in the field. So, I was more worried about drafting and getting to the front. For the first 10 to 15 laps, the field actually settled down and everybody was racing well. There was a lot of drafting going on and you could pull out and pass at will. You could use the slingshot. You couldn't just drive around, you had to set them up to drive to them. You could do it by yourself and didn't need a drafting partner like you do in the (Daytona) 500 or the Busch race. That's what's unique about the trucks. If you have a good enough truck, you can swing out and pass a guy all by yourself. You don't have to have a dancing partner. Throughout the race, the problem I saw in last year's race was that there were a bunch of drivers that made mistakes. It was an 'aero' problem with the truck, it wasn't that we were going too fast in the trucks, it was human error. We had two or three of those, and it resulted in two or three big wrecks. Hopefully we won't have those this year, but still have just an exciting of a race."

WAS THERE EVERY ANY APPREHENSION ABOUT GETTING BACK IN THE TRUCK AFTER THE LONG DELAY AND SEEING THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE ACCIDENT? "None whatsoever. Fortunately for us, and I was lucky, because I saw more of the wreck than anybody else. I was right in the middle of it and was fortunate to have just a little bit of damage to my truck. I still didn't have a clue of the magnitude of the wreck. I could feel the heat from the flames as I passed through it, but it happened so fast, I wasn't aware of the seriousness. I didn't see the grandstands being ripped down with the catchfence, and the debris that made it into the stands, but it's racing and we take that with a grain of salt. You have to strap back in the trucks and go again. There was no apprehension whatsoever. It was just time to get back to the matter at hand. If we still have to bump out here a little bit to get the job, we'll do that, too. There were no problems there."

WHAT SAFETY MEASURES HAVE YOU ADOPTED SINCE LAST YEAR TO IMPROVE DRIVER SAFETY? "As far as safety, in terms of bolting a driver in the truck, that's all the same. NASCAR has made some modifications. They have added a vertical roll bar behind the driver's head, where before they could run it horizontally. Some trucks now have two of them. They felt that when Geoffrey Bodine was bumped that he actually hit and climbed his wheel, and the rotation actually catapulted him upward, so we now have what is being termed the 'Bodine Bars.' In front of the rear wheels, behind the rear wheels and behind the front wheels there is an interior bar where you can't hit the body against the wheel and drive up."

Michael Dokken, driver of the No. 31 Brevak Racing Ford F-150, had the second round fastest qualifying time for Friday's Florida Dodge Dealers 250. Dokken's time of 49.806 seconds would have been 14th fastest in yesterday's first-round qualifying session. Dokken, who did not make a practice lap until Wednesday, spoke about his run.

MICHAEL DOKKEN -31-- Brevak Racing Ford F-150 - "When we got here, we had a hose come off the motor and burned up a bearing. We lost oil pressure in the motor and burned it up, and didn't get any practice time. The guys worked hard since the test to put this truck together, and for a while it looked kinda grim. I had no practice until this morning and we went out three times. The third time out we had to go out on scuff tires, but we were happy with our first run, and knew we had a chance of making in it. We tuned on it after practice and picked up three tenths of a second."

YOU'RE RUNNING WITH AN EXPERIENCED TRUCK TEAM, HOW DID THAT HELP TO MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME? "It helped out a lot to be here with a team that's done this before and knows the heartaches and what it takes to get it done. I've been doing this for a while and Bob (Brevak), me and the whole crew had the knowledge to put it all together."

Text provided by Ford

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