NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Rick Crawford, Robert Huffman and Brian Keselowski visited Kentucky Speedway today along with Roush Racing owner Jack Roush to preview the July 9 "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford dealers.

The series, which helped open the $152-million facility in June 2000, is celebrating its 10th Anniversary season and making its sixth Kentucky appearance in 2005.

Nine-year series veteran Rick Crawford, who begins the week 13th in the series standings after driving to one top-five and four top-10 finishes through 11 starts this season, said taking the 2005 Kentucky Speedway title will be a taller task than ever before thanks to an influx of new driving talent and strong manufacturer commitment to the series.

"This series started out by attracting some of the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series drivers who were either stagnate in, or at the close of their careers. They still wanted to have some fun racing, so they came to the 'senior tour,'" Crawford said. "Then, along with Chevy, Dodge and Ford, we added a new manufacturer with Toyota. They've taken racing very seriously, the same way as Ford, and that made the other manufacturers step to the plate.

"Now, the competition level is very, very high. When you bring in a prize bunch of drivers, great trucks and good teams together, you have a great race. I'm sure that's what we'll have when we come back to Kentucky Speedway next week."

Huffman, who finished 10th in the 2004 Kentucky Speedway race, enters this week's race at Kansas Speedway 22nd in the series standings after collecting just two top-10 finishes in 11 races with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports this season.

He hopes to improve on his team's current average finish of 24.5 on a track where he drove to DASH Series win in 2001. "We've had an up and down season so far," Huffman said. "This is a great facility. I won a DASH race here so I look forward to getting our program turned around and getting our Tundra upfront in 'The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers.'"

Roush arrived at Kentucky Speedway as part of "The Great Race," a cross-country vintage car odyssey during which drivers and navigators are timed through designated race segments.

He shared part of the secret behind his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series success that helped him pick up Craftsman Truck Series wins at Kentucky Speedway with Greg Biffle (2000) and Carl Edwards (2003).

"There are a lot of different ways to organize any hotly-contested, competitive effort, especially with all the business metrics associated with stock car racing today," Roush said. "We have out template set. We have a model for how many people should be on a race team, what the skill sets should be, what the pecking order will be, and the economics to go along with that.

"We believe in ourselves and make our decisions by process of debate and democracy. We try to draw the strength from the people with the technical, strategic and operational expertise. We have that working right now."

The two-time NEXTEL Cup Series championship owner who lists Covington, Ky., and Manchester, Ohio as his childhood homes, added that he would like to see NASCAR's marquee series turn competitive laps at Kentucky Speedway.

"It would be a dream come true to have a Cup race come here and to be able to draw from Cincinnati, Lexington and Louisville, Ky.," Roush said. "It would be wonderful. There are a lot of strong race fans that I see at Bristol, Tenn., Martinsville, Va., and other places that keep asking me (about Cup racing at Kentucky Speedway)."

The July race weekend at the speedway begins when gates open at 4:30 p.m., on July 8. Fans will be able to see ARCA RE/MAX Series "Channel 5 150" qualifying, a 90-minute NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice and "The Channel 5 150" race that begins at 8:00 p.m. Gates open at noon on Saturday, July 9. The full day of activity includes the final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice, USAC Ford Focus Midget Racing on the paved quarter-mile track, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying, a pre-race concert with artist Billy Ray Cyrus and "The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for both events are available and can be reserved by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com and http://www.tickets.com, through Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores and at Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the speedway Fan Center outside the track in Sparta, Ky. Visit the track Web site for the complete schedule."

~ Kentucky Speedway ~