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Circle Bar Racing

 

Circle Bar Racing

Owner(s) Tom Mitchell
Base North Carolina
Series Craftsman Truck Series
Notable car numbers 10
14
Notable drivers Rick Crawford
Notable sponsors Circle Bar Motel & RV Park
Manufacturer Ford
Opened 1997
Closed 2010
Career
Drivers' Championships 0
Race victories 0

Circle Bar Racing was an auto racing team that competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 1997 to 2010. The team was most notable for its relationship with Ford Motor Company as well as its sole driver, Rick Crawford.

Beginnings

Although Mitchell's team has found its home in NASCAR, the team originated in 1978 with Circle Bar sponsoring Chet Fillip in late models. The team officially started out as Circle Bar Auto Racing Inc., with Fillip as their driver. The team qualified for the 1982 Indianapolis 500, finishing 24th in a Gurney Eagle with a Cosworth power plant. Fillip also qualified for the 1983 Indianapolis 500 before DNQ-ing for the 1985 Indy 500 with a Lola chassis. The next week at Milwaukee, the team finished 10th with Fillip and sold their equipment to Al Unser Jr., who would take the championship. CBR made its NASCAR debut with Fillip in 1985, in the #31 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Fillip ran sixteen races for Mitchell in 1986, and had a best finish of twelfth in the #81. At the end of the year, Mitchell sold his equipment to Fillip. Afterwards, Circle Bar sponsored the late model efforts of John Kelly in 1989,[1] with the shop based in San Antonio, Texas. Moving to Ozona, the team picked up the championship in 1990. The next year, CBR moved to the All-Pro Series with Kelly, but Alabama native Rick Crawford took his place in 1992. Together, they attempted the 1993 Coca-Cola 600, but failed to qualify. Using Circle Bar's equipment, Crawford had great success in the All-Pro Series, beginning a partnership between Mitchell and Crawford to race in the series until 1996.

Craftsman Truck Series

#10 Truck History

Main article: ppc Racing

Circle Bar Racing fielded a second truck for the first time in 1997, when Tammy Jo Kirk drove the #74 at Fontana. She finished 35th after an early exit due to handling problems. The next attempt came in 2004, when Greg Biffle drove the #44 Ford Racing truck to an eighth-place finish at the Ford 200.

CBR added on the #10 Truck in 2007, with David Starr behind the wheel. Picking up both Navistar International sponsorship and the owners points of ppc Racing's old Truck Series team, the team had a moderately successful year, finishing 10th in points in their first year. Starr left at the end of the season to return to Red Horse Racing. Brendan Gaughan took over the #10 truck in 2008, leaving his defunct family owned team South Point Racing. Gaughan earned two top fives and five top tens and finished 15th in points. At the end of the season, Gaughan departed the team, and rookie driver James Buescher was signed to the 10 truck full-time in 2009 with Jamie Jones as his crew chief. Buescher had three top-tens and a fourteenth-place points finish but departed the team as well at the end of the year. The team was eventually sold to Jennifer Jo Cobb.

#14 Truck History

In 1997, CBR focused its operations towards NASCAR, specifically its all-new Craftsman Truck Series. Continuing his partnership with Crawford and Ford, Mitchell debuted the #14 Ford at the Chevy Trucks Challenge in 1997 with Circle Bar sponsoring. Crawford made every race and finished 12th in points, runner up to Kenny Irwin Jr. for Rookie of the Year. 1998 brought the team's first win at Homestead Miami Speedway, but inconsistency put them at 18th in points. Crawford would not win for the next four years, but had two top ten points finishes in between, including a runner-up points finish to Mike Bliss in 2002. Crawford would take his second, and arguably biggest win at the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250, with a last lap pass on Travis Kvapil. The win propelled him to a seventh place points finish. Rick would win again in 2004 at Martinsville, but dropped to twelfth in points. The 2005 season was a mixed bag, as the team won again at Loudon, but Crawford was forced to miss the first race of his career due to a crash during qualifying at Kentucky Speedway. Road racer Boris Said took his place, but was taken out in an early wreck. Rick won again at ORP in 2006 and finished ninth in points. Although the 2007 season was a winless one for the #14 team, they added on a second truck with David Starr who brought along sponsorship from Navistar International for both trucks. The added equipment resulted in a near win at Mansfield Motorsports Park and a fifth place points finish for Crawford. Crawford slipped to seventh in points in 2008, and tenth in 2009 with twenty top-tens in between both seasons. Longtime crew chief Kevin "Cowboy" Starland left Circle Bar after 2009 for Panhandle Motorsports and International departed both the #10 and the #14 for Randy Moss Motorsports. Despite the lack of sponsorship, Circle Bar gained a new crew chief in Blake Bainbridge and ran the first four races of the season before having to release Rick before Kansas and having to wait on additional sponsorship to continue running the season. The team has not been heard from since.

References

External links

  • Team Website
  • TruckSeries.com article on CBR's move to Alan Kulwicki's old race shop
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