Thirty-eight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers opened their bids for the 2006 "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" title this afternoon with a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute practice session at Kentucky Speedway.

Veteran Ford F-150 driver Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford) posted the fastest lap of the session at 174.786 mph (30.895 seconds) and was followed by defending series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Motorsports Toyota) with a 173.366-mph (31.148 seconds) lap, 2002 series Kentucky race winner Mike Bliss (No. 16 Chevrolet) with a 172.800-mph (31.250 seconds) lap, Roush Racing prospect David Ragan (No. 6 Scotts Ford) with a 172.629-mph (31.281 seconds) lap and Darrell Waltrip Racing driver David Reutimann (No. 17 Toyota Tundra Toyota) with a 172.513-mph (31.302 seconds).

Crawford is on an early pace for Kentucky Speedway redemption after ending his series-record consecutive starts streak here at 210 in 2005 when injuries he sustained in a qualifying incident prevented him from starting the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers." Musgrave has a chance to regain series momentum after slipping from second to fourth in the series standings following his 22nd-, 24th- and 23rd-place race finishes the past three weeks. He finished ninth in the 2005 Kentucky event.

"Practice went better than it has in a long time," Musgrave said. "I brought some notes from last year and I think we hit (on) something. We had no mock-up (qualifying) run, we're second quick on the board and the truck is starting to work out real well.

"We've only run this truck one time, at Dover, so maybe things are starting to look up. We've run well here and led a lot of laps without much success. Maybe tomorrow night we'll get the trophy."

Bliss hopes to rebound from his 31st-place finish last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

"We're just trying to get ready for that final practice," Bliss said. "We just need to get the little stuff together to make it perfect. The truck is getting to where I think we need it to relive the 2002 victory."

ARCA RE/MAX Series qualifying is up next on the track at 5:00 p.m.

Tickets for tonight's ARCA RE/MAX Series "WLWT-TV Channel 5 150" race are still available and on sale at Kentucky Speedway ticket booths.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~