BANGOR – For the first time in 24 years, former Nextel Cup driver Ricky Craven of Newburgh says he is “void of a goal or a mission” for the upcoming race season.
Translation: he doesn’t have a ride.
However, Craven, who raced in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series for Jack Roush last season and finished 14th in points, was quick to point out that “I’ve given very little consideration to retirement.
“Don’t underestimate my ambition or desire to compete,” added Craven, who has 278 Nextel Cup races under his belt. “I still have a passion to compete. I miss competing every day. In my mind, I still have some value. There aren’t many experienced drivers on the sidelines who have gone to Victory Lane [in the Nextel Cup Series].”
The 39-year-old Craven has two Nextel Cup wins, the only driver in a single-car team to do so in this decade, and is one of just 15 drivers who have victories in the Cup, Busch and Truck series. He won the Kroger 200 Truck race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 22.
“I haven’t gone after anything. I’m waiting for the right opportunity, an opportunity I would be excited about,” said Craven.
Until it comes, if indeed it does come, he intends to spend some long-overdue “quality time” with wife K.K., daughters Riley and Lydia, and son Everett.
He said he has an “exceptional” family that has taken a back seat to his career.
And he said he won’t sacrifice them again just to be a Nextel Cup field-filler.
“I’ve been on the run for 20 years,” said Craven, who was in Bangor to accept a check for more than $46,000 from VIP Auto Parts on the Odlin Road for his ninth annual charity snowmobile ride in Greenville on Saturday.
He said he turned down full-time Busch and Craftsman Truck opportunities because he wanted to leave the window of opportunity open to return to a competitive Nextel Cup ride.
“And there are other opportunities I need to explore,” said Craven, referring to a possible television commentating stint involving NASCAR.
“I might enjoy doing that for the experience and I’d still be involved in the sport,” said Craven.
He does expect to run a handful of Truck series races, saying it’s a “lot of fun.”
He feels that he will “win more races” and that winning a Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway is still a top priority.
For now, he is comfortable with his situation.
“It is what it is and it’s all good. My wife and children are healthy. I’ve got a quality life,” said Craven.