NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Truck Series rookie
drivers ready to rumble
Getting experience among
the top priorities of these drivers.
By Ruth Wright
SPARTA, Ky. (June 24, 2003) Winning a series championship is a top priority for most motorsports competitors, but for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Randy Briggs, the opportunity to take home a rookie-of-the-year title would be just as meaningful.
Photos by Ruth Wright
and Randy Briggs
"It would be like winning a championship to me," Briggs said during a June 24 interview at the Kentucky Speedway.
Briggs, along with fellow rookie-of-the-year contender Tina Gordon and veteran truck driver Rick Crawford, visited the Sparta, Ky., track to speak with media in anticipation of the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers," NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on July 12.
Briggs, at third place in rookie-of-the-year point standings after the "O'Reilly 200" in Memphis, Tenn., is hardly new to racing. "It took me a long time to get here. I'm not one of the young guns," Briggs said.
At 38, he is one of the oldest rookie contenders in the series 16 years older than rookie points leader Carl Edwards, 22. "When he (Edwards) was three years old, I was already winning races," said Briggs, admitting the urgency he feels to be competitive against younger, less experienced drivers.
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Although new to the truck series, Briggs racing career began more than two decades ago. The Kansas City, Mo., native started competing in the early 1980s on local dirt and paved tracks, racking up more than 70 wins throughout the Midwest and winning a points championship in his first full season in 1984. In 1996, Briggs moved to Charlotte, where he went to work as a mechanic and over-the-wall pit crew member for Triad Motorsports' NASCAR Winston Cup Series team. From 1997 to 1999, he worked for North Carolina-based Roush Racing in its show car-marketing department, becoming a top show car driver. From 1999 to 2001, Briggs competed in a limited number of races in both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and ARCA RE/MAX series. He competed in just five truck series races last year.
Despite being a little older than most of this year's rookie field, Briggs doesn't feel his age will inhibit his performance when he gets behind the wheel. "I'm probably better off now physically than I've ever been," he said.
Just a few years younger than Briggs, Gordon, 34, also has a few years on of some of her fellow rookie contenders but said she's just as ready to compete. "I don't think physically it affects anything," Gordon said.
Gordon (no relation to Jeff) hasn't been racing that long. "I didn't start out at a real young age. I just kind of stumbled into racing," she said.
Gordon began competing in powder puff races at Green Valley Speedway in Gadsden, Ala., in 1995 and 1996. Driving her husband Gary's car and winning all of her first five races, Gordon quickly became hooked. By the end of 1996, Gordon had acquired her own car and the following year began running in the Men's Hobby Division at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Fyffe, Ala. She finished 10th in points that year.
In 1998, Gordan began competing full time in the Hobby Division at Green Valley, where she enjoyed tremendous success before turning her attention to asphalt racing. After purchasing a super late-model car, she competed in her first asphalt race on June 12, 1998, at Birmingham International Speedway. In 1999 and 2000, she ran NASCAR's All-Pro Series full time, finishing 20th in points both seasons. It was while driving in the All-Pro Series in 2000 that she made her first trip to Kentucky Speedway, where she finished in 11th place.
Gordon began receiving national attention in 2001, driving in her first ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. That year she also ran in one Southern All-Star race and made one lap in a Busch Series race at Darlington. In 2002, Gordon returned to ARCA for a limited number of races. Unfortunately her season was cut short after she sustained serious leg and foot injuries in a May 18 race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Gordon entered the Craftsman Truck Series, driving the No. 31 Post-It-Microtel Dodge, this year on a sour note after an accident put her in 22nd place in the first race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Her best performance this year was a 13th place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway, coincidentally the speedway where she wrecked last year.
Despite a few setbacks, Gordon considers her first year in trucks a learning experience and a step in the direction of a Winston Cup ride. But before she moves on, Gordon said she'd really like to stay with the truck series for at least one more year.
"If we could get a second year under our belt and have the funds, then I think we could be a consistent top-10 team," Gordon said.
Gordon will join Briggs, driver of the No. 53 Sof Sole Ford, and a field of more than 30 contenders at Kentucky Speedway who will be vying for a piece of the estimated $700,000 purse.
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