Kentucky weekend notes and quotes

Call it luck, call it magic or whatever but, lapped easily at lap 50 by Ted Musgrave, Kvapil charged back to finish fourth in Saturday's Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Another lap and he'd have overhauled Jack Sprague's sputtering truck. "At...

Call it luck, call it magic or whatever but, lapped easily at lap 50 by Ted Musgrave, Kvapil charged back to finish fourth in Saturday's Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Another lap and he'd have overhauled Jack Sprague's sputtering truck.

"At the start, the truck was terribly, terribly loose - I've never driving a truck that loose in my life," commented Kvapil who stretched his fuel mileage to take advantage of caution, on lap 118, when Musgrave smacked the wall in Turn 2. "On the last restart, I was scrubbing tires and I thought the right rear was down. I pitted and we put right side tires on it.

"We dug hard on the restart - and we made it work when it counted."

Kvapil wound up scoring Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Race and a $1,000 check. Equally important, he shaved Ricky Hendrick's freshman lead to 12 points and retained his fifth-place ranking in NCTS championship standings.

Among those winner Scott Riggs remembered during his victory celebration was his father's shop dog, Rowdy Riggs, a companion throughout the North Carolina competitor's racing career. The German Shepherd, 15-years-old, was put down earlier in the week.

Dodge is now 10-for-13 in NCTS victories this season. Looking at the numbers, it required four-plus seasons and 107 races for the Ram to win 10 times. The last 52 starts have produced 14 trips to victory circle.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers defeated ESPN all stars 10 to 9 in a Thursday softball game at Northern Kentucky University. Sprague singled to center field in the bottom of the seventh inning to hand the Craftsman trophy to manager Joe Ruttman, although several on the defeated television side complained of poor umpiring - by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Director Wayne Auton.

A rematch is planned in 2002, according to Craftsman's PR agency, Carrick Public Relations, which organized the popular, mid-season event.

Perhaps the best weather weekend of 2001 produced a larger than anticipated crowd of more than 41,000 for the Kroger 225. The series has performed before more than 100,000 fans in back-to-back weekends at Kansas and Kentucky speedways.

Published reports following the race stated the facility's management doesn't expect to get a NASCAR Winston Cup Series date in 2002, but they remain hopeful of being added to the schedule in 2003.

Morgan Shepherd, after pitting his Ford early in the race, climbed from behind the wheel and changed two tires. Then the veteran driver sat on the wall, munched a snack and returned to the race.

One observer recalled similar incidents on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series - but not since the 1960s when many independent teams had few if any crew members. Shepherd failed to finish, dropping out after 54 laps with fuel pump trouble.

The elevator dropped quickly for Kansas Speedway winner Ricky Hendrick, who spun in front of the pack on lap 11 to trigger a wild, tri-oval melee. Hendrick, however, regained his composure to regain a lost lap and finish sixth.

"I tell you, besides Darlington, this is the worst experience we've had since we started in the series," said the 21-year-old freshman. "The truck got loose on me (and) I tried to save it but I did a 360."

Coy Gibbs was having a career night - running third with what he considered a shot at a victory - when the former Stanford University linebacker spun in Turn 2 attempting to get around Hendrick on the 129th lap. "I'm frustrated for the guys because we have trucks that can win races," acknowledged Gibbs. "We just have to put one together."

It has been a difficult transition from weekly racing dirt competition to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Ryan McGlynn, whose best finish in three-plus seasons and 34 previous starts had been a 16th in this year's Daytona International Speedway opener. McGlynn, however, ran hard from start-to-finish of the Kroger 225 and finished 11th.

A late stop and go penalty, for passing to the left to advance for a restart, cost McGlynn a lap and his first top-10 outing.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, was Grand Marshal for Saturday night's Kroger 225. He was warmly received - but not to the level accorded the earlier introduction of the Ben-Gals cheerleading squad of the National Football League's Cincinnati franchise.

Sprague's career winnings following his 159th series start are $4,014,751. After failing to win a Bud Pole last year, for the first time in a NCTS season, Sprague has bounced back to win a series leading four in 2001. The No. 1 starter hasn't won since Riggs triumphed June 2 at Dover Downs International Speedway.

Ted Musgrave was the sixth driver in the last seven races to lead the most laps and fail to finish first.

-nascar/cts-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Ricky Hendrick , Jack Sprague , Coy Gibbs , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Ryan McGlynn , Morgan Shepherd