Dodge weekend preview 2002-07-18

Odds in Marlin's favor as season enters second half; Leffler's Ram going after third straight pole at NHIS. LOUDON, N.H. (July 17, 2002) - New Hampshire paves the way for big-time politics by hosting the first presidential primary in election...

Odds in Marlin's favor as season enters second half; Leffler's Ram going after third straight pole at NHIS.

LOUDON, N.H. (July 17, 2002) - New Hampshire paves the way for big-time politics by hosting the first presidential primary in election years. On Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway, the Live Free or Die state gets involved with some high-speed politics.

With the NASCAR Winston Cup season halfway complete and Dodge Intrepid R/T driver Sterling Marlin holding a 49-point advantage over second place Mark Martin in the season-long points' race, the New England 300 will set the stage for Marlin's campaign in the final 18 races.

The points' leader at the midway mark in the season has gone on to win the championship since 1993, so Marlin has to be considered the front-runner entering the home stretch. However, three drivers are within 100 points of Marlin's lead and 10th-place Matt Kenseth is just 264 points behind the leader.

Marlin began his NASCAR Winston Cup career in 1976, and he's made 557 career starts since then with 11 career poles and 10 victories. He finished third in the series standings in 1995 and again last year, but the 45-year-old driver from Columbia, Tenn., has never dominated the circuit like he did in the first five races this season.

He won two of the first five events in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T, and he's been atop the leaderboard since his runner-up finish at Rockingham in February. That's a 17-race stretch that's seen his lead range from 18-143 points. Six different drivers ranging from rookies to veterans have held second place during that 17-race span, but no one has managed to knock Marlin off the top of the mountain.

Marlin finished second last year in the season finale at NHIS, his best finish ever at the one-mile track. He led 21 laps in that race. In 14 starts at NHIS, Marlin has four top 10s, but Marlin has a million reasons to run up front Sunday.

Dodge will present a million dollar bonus to the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates team and a 2003 Dodge Viper to Marlin if they hold on and win the championship. Dodge offered the bonus to any Intrepid team at the beginning of the season. Bill Elliott and the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid team is the only other Dodge team in the top 10 at the midway point. Elliott and his Evernham Motorsports contingent are ranked eighth entering the final 18 events, 253 points behind Marlin.

A full slate of racing action is on tap this weekend with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at NHIS on Saturday for the New England 200. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series will sanction the Eldora Clash and the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway Friday and Saturday. Speed Channel will tape each racing program for Aug. 15 and Sept. 5 telecasts at 11 p.m. eastern. The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series heads to Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., for the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals.

TV and Radio Schedule

* Friday, 3:05 p.m. NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying for Sunday's New England 300. TNT-TV and MRN Radio.

* Saturday, 11:15 a.m. NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour from New Hampshire International Speedway. Speed Channel-TV.

* Saturday, 1 p.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series New England 200 from NHIS. ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.

* Saturday, 7-9 p.m. NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals Qualifying. ESPN.

* Sunday, 1:30 p.m. NASCAR Winston Cup Pre-Race Show. TNT-TV and MRN Radio.

* Sunday, 2 p.m. New England 300 NASCAR Winston Cup race from NHIS. TNT-TV and MRN Radio.

*       Sunday, 6-9 p.m. NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series . Mopar Parts
Mile-High Nationals. Final Round.  ESPN-2.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Jason Leffler has found the key to qualifying his No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge Ram faster than anyone else in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Leffler leads the circuit with six poles in 2002, and he'll be going for his third straight No. 1 starting spot on Friday in time trials for Saturday's New England 200 at NHIS.

Leffler's goal now is to stay up front after he starts there. Although winless in 11 starts this season, Leffler ranks fourth in the series standings, just 58 points behind leader and teammate Ted Musgrave.

Musgrave leads the way in his No. 1 Mopar Parts Ultra Motorsports Dodge Ram by 14 points over Mike Bliss.

Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 NAPA Dodge Ram, leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings in the truck series by 37 points over another Dodge rookie, Bill Lester, driver of the No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram.

The truck series manufacturers championship race is tighter than a Las Vegas slot machine. Chevy leads Dodge, 75-74, while Ford trails with 60 points.

NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series

Mopar Parts, the parts arm of the DaimlerChrysler Motors Corp., sponsors three professional teams and four drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, including Nitro Funny Car driver Dean Skuza of Skuza Motorsports, the factory-backed Pro Stock team of Nickens Brothers Racing with drivers Darrell Alderman and Gene Wilson and the Pro Stock team of Larry Morgan Racing with driver Larry Morgan.

Alderman is a three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion and 28-time NHRA national event winner, while Wilson is the 2001 IHRA Pro Stock World Champion and a leading candidate for NHRA Pro Stock Rookie of the Year honors. Veteran driver Morgan has won eight NHRA national events in the Pro Stock category and Dean has won two NHRA Funny Car races, earned three No. 1 qualifiers and is co-host of TNN's Popular Hot Rodding Television.

The 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway marks the one-year anniversary of the Pro Stock Dodge Neon R/T, which made its debut at last year's event.

The Dodge Neon R/T Pro Stock project has accomplished much since its debut. Despite losing in the second round of last year's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Mopar Parts driver Alderman piloted his new Neon to the quickest elapsed time of the fourth session.

Mopar Parts, long-time supporter of Bandimere Speedway, has selected' Race to Read' program director Tami Shrader as Grand Marshal for the 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Shrader, who is the daughter of Bandimere Speedway owner John Bandimere, also serves as the track's public relations director.

Pennzoil World of Outlaws

The Speed Channel airs its first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series telecast on Thursday night. Cable television's most watched motorsports channel will show highlights of the Duel in the Dakotas preliminary racing programs won by Joey Saldana and P.J. Chesson starting at 11 p.m. eastern.

Speed Channel will telecast the Duel in the Dakotas finale won by hometown favorite Donny Schatz on July 25th. Speed Channel will also tape this weekend's racing action from Eldora Speedway. Friday's Eldora Clash will be telecast Aug.15, and Saturday's $50,000-to-win Kings Royal will be aired Sept. 5.

Defending series champion Danny"The Dude" Lasoski won Sunday night's feature at Terre Haute, Ind., Action Track. The $10,000 victory pushed "The Dude" to within nine points of Indiana's Steve Kinser in their battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship.

Mark Kinser, who has won five Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events at Terre Haute, rode the rim around Schatz in the second corner early in the 22nd lap, and set his sights on the defending series champion.

The No. 5-M Mopar-powered Maxim ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line during the final lap, causing Mark Kinser to lose 13 positions. He finished 18th. Lasoski was 6.4 seconds ahead of Schatz when he took the checkered flag.

Steve Kinser leads the standings after 40 races with 6,142 points, followed by Lasoski, 6,133; Craig Dollansky, 5,898; Joey Saldana with 5,850 and Mark Kinser with 5,848.

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck , NHRA , World of Outlaws
Drivers Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Jason Leffler , Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Sterling Marlin , Ted Musgrave , Mark Kinser , Gene Wilson , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Chip Ganassi , Craig Dollansky , Joey Saldana , P.J. Chesson , Mark Martin