Rick Crawford's "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" mission can be defined in straightforward terms: race an F-150 to Kentucky Speedway's Victory Lane for the first time since 2003.

The 13-year NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran fell just 0.586 of a second shy of completing the mission three seasons ago when he was nipped at the finish line by current series standings leader Ron Hornaday, Jr., in the fourth-closest NCWTS race in track history.

Since, Crawford has driven to 14th- and 30th-place finishes in his last two visits to the Bluegrass State. He's using those showings as motivation to take this season's "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" title.

"It's always important to be excited about going to a race, but, more so when the race is being sponsored by your own factory. I'm looking forward to it and our 2009 Motor Trend Truck of Year F-150 team is looking forward to it, too," Crawford said.

The Mobile, Ala., competitor will roll into Race 12 of the 25-event NCWTS campaign occupying the ninth spot in the series standings and coming off an 11th-place showing at Memphis Motorsports Park in the series' June 27 race.

Crawford earned his season-best fifth-place finishes at Texas Motor Speedway on June 5 and Martinsville Speedway on March 30, where he started from the pole position.

"It hasn't been the performance year I'm looking for and it's not what I'm used to, but we did sit on the pole at Martinsville, led the most laps there and had a top-five finish. We had a top-five at my boss' home track in Texas, so we've showed signs of running well.

"We'll be trying something new and a little bit different at Kentucky, so the team will be up for it. I know I am. Just feeling the vibrations around the shop, I think the team is ready to go," he said.

Owner Tom Mitchell's Circle Bar Racing operation has taken a total of two top-five and three top-10 finishes in its eight Kentucky Speedway starts. Crawford, who ended his string of 210 consecutive NCWTS starts when he missed the 2005 Kentucky race after a qualifying accident, came out of the gate strong with a 10th-place Kentucky finish in 2000 and assembled his second-best performance at the track with a fourth-place effort in 2004.

Both driver and owner plan to dive deep into Crew Chief Kevin Starland's notebook to give their No. 14 F-150 a chance to visit Victory Lane for the first time this season in the 10th NCWTS race in Kentucky Speedway history.

"I've always said you must have a perfect race to win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but at Kentucky, you need a great engine, a good body and aero package, a driver that's up on the wheel for the whole distance, great calls from the pit box, and your competitors have to get out of the way.

"We love it here and we know this track. It's is aged to perfection. It's a wide racetrack with a lot of character, so we know they'll be a lot of scrapes, a lot of bangin' and a lot of excitement. There's a lot that can go on and a lot that can cost you the race," Crawford said.

Kentucky Speedway's third of four 2009 race weekends opens July 17 with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series practice sessions from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Action continues July 18 with a doubleheader race day featuring the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" followed by the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Click It or Ticket. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150." The day also includes a concert with classic country music artist Lee Greenwood.

Weekend tickets, new infield camping and more Big Deals can be reserved by visiting the tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223) or through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 North. Fans also can reserve tickets at Meijer stores and Tickets.com outlets.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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