Residence: Cleveland, GA
Rick Crawford is hoping to put the 2005 season behind him and rekindle the magic of his 2003 championship run in ‘06. Crawford, a 20-year veteran driver, is still the Iron Man of the series, but he saw his record streak of consecutive series starts end in ‘05 at 211 with a vicious qualifying accident at Kentucky Speedway. Entering his 10th season of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition this year, there has always been a constant in Crawford’s racing career
—his team owner Tom Mitchell.
Crawford and his Circle Bar Racing team joined the NCTS in 1997 after a move from the NASCAR All-Pro Division. Finishing second to Kenny Irwin in a battle for the Rookie-of-the-Year honors, Crawford racked up two top-five and 10 top-10 finishes en route to a 12th-place finish in the series standings.
The ‘98 season had its share of highs and lows for the sophomore team, as Crawford and Circle Bar Racing celebrated their first truck series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the remainder of the season was marred by engine problems and bad luck. All together, Crawford produced only four top-five and five top-10 finishes, finishing a career-low 18th in the overall point standings.
The following season was a rebuilding year for Circle Bar Racing. After starting the ‘99 season with a pair of top-10 finishes, the team battled inconsistency until new crew chief Mike Cheek helped secure several top-10 runs, vaulting the team to a 14th-place finish in the championship standings.
Circle Bar race team turned around from a crash in ‘00 at Daytona by not finishing worse than 15th for 16 straight races. The team also had a streak of seven straight top-10 starts and 12 straight by starting 12th or better. Overall, Crawford had 13 top-10 and two top-5 finishes and earned a career-best 11th in the championship point standings.
The ‘01 season cemented Crawford’s place in the Series as the team raced its way to six top-10 finishes in the season’s first seven races. Crawford battled with inconsistency the next seven races, faced with several engine failures that resulted in only one top-10 performance. A mid-season change in engine supplier rekindled Crawford’s consistent efforts as he went on to score eight top-six finishes in the season’s last 10 events, finishing eighth in the final standings.
Crawford and Circle Bar Racing saw a career year in ‘02 as they remained in contention for the NCTS championship at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting the season with seven top-10 finishes in the first eight events, Crawford captured his first career pole at Dover International Speedway. Throughout the season Crawford continued his march to the top of the standings, racing to 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. The team notched its second pole of ‘02 at Phoenix International Raceway and headed to Miami 32 points out of the championship lead. With a seventh-place finish in the season finale, Crawford found himself a mere 46 points away from his first NASCAR championship, finishing the season in the runner-up position.
The ‘03 season began in dramatic fashion with Crawford winning the Daytona 250 at Daytona International Speedway in a memorable three-wide photo finish. The Circle Bar team went on to capture 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes en route a seventh-place finish in the championship standings, the team’s third consecutive top-10 points showing.
Teamed with veteran crew chief Gene Nead at the start of the ‘04 season, Crawford captured an early-season victory at Martinsville, just one race after suffering a foot injury in a terrible crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With only four top-five and nine top-10 finishes over the course of the 25-race season, and numerous crew chief changes, Crawford ended the season 12th in the point standings, marking the first time in four seasons that he had finished outside of the top 10.
Crawford entered the ‘05 season with veteran crew chief Kevin “Cowboy” Starland calling the shots, but the season got off to a rough start as a crash at Daytona resulted in a spectacular end-over-end flip. However, there were some successes from which the team can build from in ‘06. Crawford drove the No. 14 Ford to victory at New Hampshire International Speedway en route to a 19th-place finish in the point standings.