Ricky Craven, who just scored his first victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series, has enjoyed his time behind the wheel of a truck that hits 180 mph. But he hopes to be back in a car in the Nextel Cup hunt next year.

Craven, a Newburgh native, is part of an exclusive club that has scored victories in all three major NASCAR series: Nextel Cup, Busch series, and now the Craftsman Truck series. He’s also the only driver in a single car team to win a Nextel Cup race in the last five years.

Despite all that, he doubts that he’d be selected for a top 10 team because he is 39 years old and Nextel Cup is in the midst of a youth movement.

However, he noted that there are teams that have potential to contend for a spot in the chase (top 10) next season and he hopes to land one of those rides.

“I’ve had discussions about next year. I have a pretty clear picture of what I would like to do and where I would like to be. I know who I want to work with. It’s a matter of trying to work that out,” said Craven.

Craven said he feels that the next “three or four years can be quality years for me.”

“I still have a passion to compete,” said Craven.

Craven had seven top 10s in his first eight truck races for Roush Racing, but he struggled over the next 12 with no top 10s and just four top-20 finishes.

In the midst, crew chief and longtime friend Mike Beam was moved over to the other Roush team where he became the crew chief for rookie Todd Kluever. Craven announced he was leaving Roush Racing at the end of the season.

All of that made last Saturday’s win at Martinsville, Va., all the sweeter.

“It has been a tough summer. You live and die by expectations. Those expectations were taking a toll on us,” said Craven, who had hoped to compete for the points championship.

Although he is disappointed that he won’t attain his goal of contending for the points championship, Craven has his sights set on finishing in the top 10 and, more importantly, winning at least one of the last four races.

“The accommodating aspect of where we’re at right now is we can go for wins the rest of the year,” said Craven. “We just need to approach the last four races the way we approached Martinsville.”

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