NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver David Starr will make his 250th start this weekend at Iowa Speedway, which will make him just the sixth driver in series history to reach that milestone. Of the active, full-time drivers in the series, only Ron Hornaday has more starts than Starr. In honor of that achievement, here's a special edition of our 12 questions, tweaked for the Truck Series.
What's the best race you've ever driven?
DS: It's hard to put your finger on which one it was. There's been a lot of them where you fall back through adversity and never give up. As a driver, I try to leave the racetrack with my head high because I feel like I gave it all I could give and I didn't leave anything on the table. Not necessarily because of a win or a top five, but because you got all you could get in that given day.
Our Randy Moss (Motorsports) team, we don't have a powerhouse team. We're really underfunded. But we work hard, we have high morale. ... You never stop fighting, you fight to the end. And if you fight to the end, whether that's first, fourth, 10th, whatever it is, as long as you give it all you can give, that's all you can do.
Every race I run today I feel like I'm really fortunate, because I've been racing since '98 and I still get to race with the way the times are in our sport; it's sad it's not about talent anymore. Well, it's still about talent, but along with that you have to have a good sponsor. Every race is big for me because I love what I do so much and I love racing, it's like a dream come true.
Who is the most talented driver in the Camping World Truck Series?
DS: That's another loaded question. You're asking for one individual. You know, if I just had to put my finger on it, it'd be Ron Hornaday. But you know, my teammate Mike Skinner is pretty friggin' awesome. And Todd Bodine's great. There's a lot of really talented ones – everybody at that level is talented. But you're asking me to put my finger on the best one, so I'd have to say Ron Hornaday.
What's the best time for a fan to approach you at the track for an autograph?
DS: Anytime. Obviously there's been (busy) times right when I get out of my truck after practice, debriefing with my team and with my crew chief, but I always try to accomodate every fan. Because I know without the fans, we couldn't do what we do for a living. So I've never been rude to a fan. I always try to accomodate them whether they just want to ask me something or they want to talk or they want an autograph.
I think for the most part, 99.9 percent of the time, if they see you talking to your crew chief or debriefing with Mike Skinner, most fans are respectful. There's just that little bit of percent that will walk up at an inappropriate time, and if that happens, I'll always ask them, 'Hey, give me a minute and I'll take care of you.' The fans are so important to me. I've never been rude to one and I'm always trying to accomodate all of them the best I can.
What's something fans may not know or understand about you?
DS: Having a job and living my dream, I'm always happy and smiling. But my wife would tell you when the green flag drops and I'm my competitive self, I'm a totally different person. My wife says, 'You're like the Tasmanian Devil. You have a split personality. You're such a nice guy and happy guy all the time, but something happens to you when you get to the racetrack.' I try to explain to her that I'm kind of going to war – you have to get in that mindset when you're out there competing.
I think a lot of people see that when I don't win races, I still smile and I'm a nice guy – because you've got to carry yourself as a champion. But people close to me know that it really eats at me inside. I hate to lose, I'm a sore loser – but you wouldn't know that. Inside, it hurts so bad when you don't win and you want to win. I'm extremely competitive.
What's the worst track on the NASCAR Truck circuit?
DS: Man, that's a good question, because I love to race. I love 'em all. When someone asks what my favorite track is, 'The next one we go to' is my answer. They say, 'Hey, well you've got to give us more than that.' So I'll say, 'I love Darlington, I love Daytona, I love Texas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway. I just love to race. Martinsville, Mansfield, Phoenix.'
I love 'em all, but I really love the ones I've won at: Las Vegas, Martinsville, St. Louis, Phoenix. I love short tracks, I love the mile-and-a-halfs, I love Daytona and Talladega. I just love to race, man.
If you were put in charge of the Truck series, what's one thing you'd change?
DS: I know times are tough out there and we're all having a hard time with sponsorships. But that being said, I'd like to add more races. Our schedule – 25 races in a series – you get to spend more time at home and have a normal life. But I'm a racer; I want to race more.
Over the years, if I was the one who had a magic wand, maybe I would pay the team owners a little bit more money. If there was more money in the series for the team owners, it wouldn't be such a struggle week after week for all the different owners. I wish somehow the prize money was a little bit more for each team – not just the team I'm with, but for everybody – because it's such a good series, the racing is good.
How do you get to that? I don't know. I just wish there was more money for everybody – and I'm not a money person, it's just that it takes money to have our sport.
How long do you see yourself driving?
DS: Well, I hope 15 more years (Starr is 42 now). I hope to race until I'm 55, 56 years old. No doubt about it. But only if I'm competitive, you know what I mean? You look at Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Mark Martin, a bunch of the older guys – still very competitive. And that's what I want to do. If I'm not physically capable, I couldn't possibly go through that. I have to be competitive, because that fire burns inside of me. If I'm 50 and I don't still have that fire, that might be a sign that I need to get out of it.
What's the first thing you do when you walk in the door after a long race weekend?
DS: Kiss my wife and hug my son. When my son was born – David Starr Jr., he's 15 months old – you know, people say you start having kids and a family and it slows you down. But I was in the hospital sitting there with my wife and thinking, 'All I want to do is go race.' It fueled that passion to be successful and win more races. I didn't think anybody could ever put more drive in me, and when my son was born, it made me want to work harder and continue to do whatever I've got to do to be successful. That burning desire increased, and I never thought that would happen.
What also happened is when you've got a weekend where you're not running very well or something knocks you out of contention, when I get home and walk in the door and hug my wife and see my little son, I know it's gonna be OK. You know what I mean? I know it's gonna be alright. My family kind of puts life in perspective.
Do you have any superstitions or routines on race day?
DS: One of the things I do is the night before I race is I go eat at the Olive Garden. I like to load up on some carbs. Eat some fettucini alfredo and eat some good salad. A lot of people that know me are like, 'You can always find David Starr at an Olive Garden.' SBN: Ever try to get them as a sponsor? I never have. As much as I eat there, they probably should.
Who will win the Truck Series title in 2015?
DS: That's a good question. That's five years from now, but I look at an Austin Dillon if he stays in the Truck Series. There's a lot of new, young talent that are driving really fast trucks. I hope in 2015 that Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine and myself are all still out there doing it. But if I had to put my finger on it, I'd say Austin Dillon or James Buescher.
In the Truck Series, who is one driver you'd recommend learning from and one driver you wouldn't?
DS: I think Matt Crafton has done it the right way. He's hung in there and now week-in and week-out, you know you're going to have to deal with the 88 truck. He's a nice guy, he's been loyal to the team he's with and they've worked together for years. I would recommend him. He's good with his sponsors, good with people and understands the sport.
I could write a book on how I made it to NASCAR and all the sacrifices and letdowns and the promises and how you've got to have a heart and be dedicated and have a passion, and how if you have all that and are willing to work hard, you can make it. It's the American dream. My family wasn't rich, we didn't have no money. I begged and borrowed and asked a lot of people and was told 'No,' but I stayed after it and met a lot of great people.
So I would tell a new guy that you should always build effective relationships with different people, because it's the people who are going to bring you along – especially today.
As far as who to avoid, everybody has their own story. They've gotten where they've gotten how they've had to get there, and even if there's something negative about somebody, that was what they had to do to get there. So I can't answer that question. Everybody does what they have to do to continue to race and be competitive. If it's a little bit of negative to somebody, I understand what they're doing and why they have to do it.
Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?
DS: Both. Just because you're a great person doesn't mean you're not a fierce competitor, you know what I mean? You look at my deal – I'm a happy guy and treat everybody fairly, but then I'm at war when the green flag drops. So I think you'd want to be known as both: A hard racer, but a nice guy off the racetrack.