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Craven Encouraged About Season After Switching From Ford To Pontiac

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — Ricky Craven will make his debut in a Pontiac at Daytona International Speedway this week, in preparation for next weekend's Daytona 500.

After switching from a Ford, which he drove last season, Craven says he's optimistic about his chances for a successful 2003 Winston Cup season.

He added that Daytona should be a good track for his car.

Craven called the progress he has made in his new car "encouraging.

"We're ahead of where we were last year on the track," he said. "We certainly have some work to do. Nobody is denying that. But, we're going to benefit from the Pontiac.

"The new Grand Prix is an exciting race car. It's a performance piece. I'm enjoying the beginning of the relationship with Pontiac, but looking forward to all of it and it being a long (relationship). It's a car and a group of people that are used to winning, and they're used to success, and we're determined to continue that success."

Craven said a recent test session at Daytona left him in good spirits entering the long season ahead.

"Right now, that is one of the most encouraging parts of our program," he said. "he Daytona test we had was very good.

"We left here knowing that we have a chance to win the Daytona 500, and that is so big. That is so important for the people puttingin the long hours, to understand that what they are doing is actually going to a cause, and that you've got a chance. And, it's all about having a chance.

"We have a better chance to win the Daytona 500 than we did a year ago," Craven said. "I am convinced of that, and I think that the Tide Pontiac Grand Prix is a big part of the reason why."

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