After showing lots of promise driving a truck in 2005, Todd Kluever was originally penciled in to replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 Nextel Cup car in 2007.
Now it's the end of 2007, and with only four career starts in Nextel Cup, the Roush Fenway Racing driver is looking for a ride.
"I always believed that once I got the chance, no matter what happens, I could be happy," Kluever said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Part of me believes that's true. But another part of me [thinks] now that I've had that chance, I believe I can compete at that level and I'm just looking for the opportunity to do that.
"Things didn't work out at Roush, and that's part of life. You look at how many guys that have had great careers that didn't work out the first place they were at. Now that I've had my chance, I am more hungry to prove that I belong."
Kluever had an impressive beginning at Roush Racing when he won the "Gong Show" in 2004 and then finished 11th in points in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2005. Kluever had seven top-10 finishes in the final 16 races of the 2005 truck season and posted three second-place finishes.
He started off decent in a Busch Series car in 2006 with a seventh at Daytona and 12th in California but didn't keep the momentum and ended up 17th in points. He made four of the seven Nextel Cup races he attempted in 2006, but David Ragan ended up taking over the No. 6 car for 2007.
"I really wanted to stay with that [truck] situation one more year, but then things got put on the speed track when Kurt [Busch] said he was leaving and Mark [Martin] was retiring and they needed some drivers to fill some seats," Kluever said. "At that point, I had proved that I could compete. Obviously, Jack Roush believed it at that time, and at that point it was the sky's the limit."
With a rookie crew chief and a rookie engineer on his 2006 Busch team, Kluever said the team just needed time to work together. They had two top-10 finishes in the final three races and Kluever hoped that would be a spark for this season. He shared a Busch ride this year with Greg Biffle and has one top-10 in 17 starts. His best career Busch finish was that seventh at Daytona.
"It's just so hard to be a part-time driver and compete against guys who race so much," Kluever said. "I'm just looking to get back into a full-time gig and go racing again. I know I can do it. I still very much believe that."
The 29-year-old Kluever said it wouldn't matter to him if it was a truck or Nationwide (formerly Busch) ride in 2008.
"I'll always be thankful to Jack Roush and [team president] Geoff Smith for giving me an opportunity," he said. "I was 26 years old when they took a chance on me, and that is pretty uncommon anymore for teams to do. I'll always be forever grateful to them.
"As a kid, I dreamed about racing on Sunday and I got to do that. There are a lot of people in this world who don't get that opportunity that deserve it."
Now he's looking to try to make the dream end well. His best finish in four Cup races was 32nd at Kansas.
"Once you get your chance, the frustrating part becomes did it go how you wanted it to or what would you do different?" Kluever said. "When it doesn't work out the way you dreamed it to ... there's no way I can be happy because things didn't work out they were supposed to." - scenedaily.com
share your NASCAR opinions with other race fans here: MESSAGE BOARDS - CAPTAIN THUNDER RACING - MESSAGE BOARDS
CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO THE REPLAY OF THE ONLY UNCENSORED NASCAR SHOW ANYWHERE - "TWISTED METAL" with Captain Thunder From THURSDAY NOVEMBER 1ST - THUNDER AND THE BIG MAN RECAP THE ATLANTA RACE, PREVIEW THE TEXAS RACE, AND COVER ALL OF THIS WEEKS NASCAR NEWS
(PLEASE NOTE...THIS IS AN UNCENSORED SHOW AND NOT FOR THOSE UNDER THE AGE OF 18)
WOULD YOU LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE? E MAIL Captain Thunder
ESPN RADIO - CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO CAPTAIN THUNDER RECAP THE DICKIES 500 FROM THE TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ON ESPN RADIO - MONDAY NOVEMBER 5TH