HOMESTEAD, Fla. * Crew chiefs who win with youngsters have been in the news of late but how about Fred Wanke, a whiz with more seasoned drivers? Florida Dodge Dealers 400 winner Ted Musgrave was Wanke*s third charge on the NASCAR Craftsman...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. * Crew chiefs who win with youngsters have been in the news of late but how about Fred Wanke, a whiz with more seasoned drivers? Florida Dodge Dealers 400 winner Ted Musgrave was Wanke*s third charge on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to visit victory circle * and the youngest at age 45. Wanke*s other series winners are Joe Ruttman (2000 with Bobby Hamilton Racing) and Jimmy Hensley (1998 and 1999 at Petty Enterprises). Both competitors are on the sunset side of age 50. Wanke is only the second NCTS crew chief to win with three different teams, matching the record held by Gary Showalter. Ultra Motorsports, meanwhile, becomes the first organization to win in each of the tour*s seven seasons. Musgrave is the team*s third winning driver, joining Mike Bliss and Mike Wallace.
Jack Sprague, who led 79.5 miles of Sunday's race, becomes the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series all time miles leader with 3,828.43. He passes Ron Hornaday who paced 3772.024 in his five seasons on tour. ***
The switch to 12:1 compression engines found 34 of 36 race starters installing the 780 horsepower V8s, the exceptions being Team 23 (Loni Richardson) and M-B Motorsports (Larry Gunselman) which stayed with the proven 9.5:1. Still, lap speeds were well off Randy Tolsma*s track record pace of 1999, due to a harder compound Goodyear Eagle and front end air flow changes mandated by NASCAR.
*** Until Sunday, five of the top seven finishers never had won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
*** Carlos Contreras logged his best career finish, seventh-place and first finisher one lap off Musgrave*s winning pace. The Petty Enterprises competitor bested an eighth (at Watkins Glen International) and top oval track run, a 10th that came at Dover Downs International Speedway last September.
*** Scott Riggs scored his first Bud Pole but settled for third-place after his team pit strategy * opposite that of teammate Musgrave * backfired and the 30-year-old North Carolina driver was forced to pit a few laps before the conclusion of the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. Still, the fourth finishing Riggs took over the NCTS point lead by five over Raybestos Rookie Ricky Hendrick. Hendrick, meanwhile, collected his second consecutive top five to the delight of father Rick Hendrick who watched his son instead of Hendrick Motorsports* three NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams at Las Vegas where Jeff Gordon was victorious. *The big goal is the championship (but) it*s a little disappointing not to be challenging for the win,* said Hendrick who * like third-place teammate Jack Sprague * got hung out to dry by 60 laps of green flag racing following their final pit service.
*** Also taking in the Homestead action was Joe Gibbs whose son, Coy, placed 11th after starting 29th.
*** Addington Racing came to Homestead-Miami Speedway as the defending race winner but without Andy Houston who departed at the conclusion of 2000 to compete on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Crew chief Rick Ren, who continues to gush over the potential of Raybestos Rookie Travis Kvapil, nearly got the checkered flag again as his Wisconsin charge finished a solid * if distant * second to Musgrave. *I knew we didn*t have a chance to run Ted down,* said Kvapil. *The last five laps I really kept my eye on the fuel pressure gauge. I just rode as conservatively as I could. Once we pitted (on the final caution) and Ricky (Hendrick) didn*t, we knew we had a great advantage (in the Raybestos Rookie battle).*
*** Musgrave*s 10-plus second margin of victory marked only the second time in NCTS history that a double digit MOV has occurred. The record remains Jack Sprague*s 13.186 second win over Joe Ruttman at Phoenix International Raceway on April 20, 1997.
*** Ruttman failed to back up his Daytona victory after suffering a stuck throttle late in the race. He barely was able to keep the DANA Corporation Dodge off the Turn 3 wall then finished ninth while coasting down pit road after running out of fuel on lap 166.
*** The 2001 schedule*s next two events, Mesa Marin Raceway*s March 17 OSH 250 and the April 7 Discount Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway, will be contested on short tracks.
*** Rick Crawford was the top finishing Ford driver, in eighth-place and described his second consecutive top-10 effort as *first in class.* Crawford, along with others campaigning last year*s manufacturer champion F-150, are looking to NASCAR for a rules concession in the wake of Dodge*s two Bud Poles and race wins. *I don*t know if it*s a power problem or an aero thing,* said Crawford, whose lone series win came in the 1998 edition of the Florida Dodge Dealers 400. *We seem to be handling good but there are some trucks passing you down the straightaway and then there are some that just run off and leave you.*