Martinsville: Dodge Motorsports preview

Dodge looks to grab Martinsville by the horns. Bill Lester says 'No more mister nice guy,' and Motor-Mouth Darrell Waltrip says he's in a Dodge. MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 9, 2002) - After a dominating start to the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck ...

Dodge looks to grab Martinsville by the horns.

Bill Lester says 'No more mister nice guy,' and Motor-Mouth Darrell Waltrip says he's in a Dodge.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 9, 2002) - After a dominating start to the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, Dodge Motorsports teams are set on keeping the pace in Saturday's Advance Auto Parts 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

Dodge Rams have won both races in 2002, earning six top-five finishes and leading 211 out of 247 laps on the year. The manufacturer has shut the other makes out of the top two spots in each race, and has owned the top three positions in the series points standings so far.

Coming into Martinsville, Dodge will visit a track where it has been red-hot prior to 2002. The last three races at Martinsville have been won by all three of Dodge's 2002 primary truck owners (Richard Petty of Petty Enterprises, Bobby Hamilton of Bobby Hamilton Racing and Jim Smith of Ultra Motorsports). Now, with a new truck package and a wealth of talent behind its 2002 teams, Dodge will have to prove that it has what it takes to keep winning.

"Martinsville is going to be a little different this year because of the different carburetor that we've been running since about the middle of last season," said Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram. "I think everybody's notes can pretty much be thrown away from last year and start over with this package we have now."

Musgrave, currently tied for first place in points with Dodge driver Robert Pressley, will shoot for back-to-back wins on the tail of his March victory at Darlington. Musgrave earned back-to-back victories once in 2001 while tallying seven wins in his first year competing in the series.

"We won a lot last year and we've started this year on a good note by finishing second at Daytona and winning at Darlington. We had a solid chance of winning at Martinsville last year, but mechanical gremlins got us. If we can figure out the new carb-engine combo and stay out of trouble, I think we can win at Martinsville."

Bill Lester, driver of the No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram will make his second start on an NCTS short track this weekend, but says he refuses to be bullied around. Lester's only short track run came last year at South Boston Speedway where he started 26th but was forced to finish 32nd on the .4-mile track.

"I'm getting tired of being the proverbial pinball," Lester said. "It just doesn't seem to matter how good the truck is we keep getting in someone else's mistake. I guess it's bad racing luck, but it has been hard to handle. I know how hard every one of these guys work on this truck, and to see their faces after the heartbreak we have suffered early on this year is just tough. So, starting with Martinsville, it's no more mister nice guy. I'm going to the front with what Kip (McCord) and I are calling calculated aggression."

Dodge brings a full field to Martinsville

Dodge is looking forward to racing its largest field of Dodge Rams at Martinsville this weekend. Fifteen Dodge teams are entered for the Advance Auto Parts 250, including five factory-backed teams and 10 'Run With the Ram Program' and independent entries. The most Dodge Rams that have ever qualified for a Craftsman Truck Race is 12 - in the September Richmond race of 2000.

Notable additions to the Dodge teams competing this weekend include three-time Winston Cup champion and current NASCAR announcer Darrell Waltrip, who will drive Melling Racing's No. 17 Duck Head Footwear Dodge Ram as a one-time independent entry. Waltrip will be reunited with former crew chief and current NASCAR announcer Jeff Hammond.

Also making a first-time Dodge appearance will be veteran NASCAR Goody's Dash Series driver Angie Wilson, who recently signed a deal to run the No. 81 Ware Racing Enterprises Dodge Ram for the remainder of the 2002 season as a Dodge 'Run With the Ram" entry. Wilson, slated to run with Ware Enterprises for the next two years, will become the second female driver ever to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series when she makes her first start Saturday.

"We're pleased to the largest field of Dodges we've ever seen accompanying our five manufacturer-backed teams this weekend," said Bill Tracy, Senior Manager, Motorsports Operations, Dodge Motorsports. "This is quite a complement to our program. With the success that we've seen from Dodge this year, we're honored that other teams have noticed and have decided to come on board."

DODGE NOTES

* Dodge has won in the past three NCTS races at Martinsville. Richard Petty's No. 43 Dodge Ram driven by Jimmy Hensley earned Dodge's first victory at the track in 1999 - setting the track's current race speed record of 74.294 mph (1 hr., 46 min., 12 sec.) Bobby Hamilton won in 2000 driving his own No. 4 Dodge Ram, and Jim Smith's No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge Ram won last year's race with driver Scott Riggs.

* Ted Musgrave's win at Darlington was the third consecutive win for Dodge, dating back to Musgrave's victory in last year's season finale at California Speedway. Dodge tallied eight consecutive wins to start off the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck season.

* Five Dodge drivers led every lap of the 147-lap Darlington Anniversary 200 (Ted Musgrave 97, Robert Pressley 32, Jason Leffler 13, Carlos Contreras 3, Brian Rose 2).

* After two races, four Dodge teams rank in the top five of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standings (Pressley/Musgrave tied for first, Rose third, Contreras fifth). Dodge drivers Brendan Gaughan and Bill Lester rank second and third (respectively) in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race.

* Dodge is leading the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturer's Championship race so far with 18 points. Chevy trails with 12 points, and Ford has eight.

* The 1-2-3-4 finish of Dodge Rams in February's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 was the first time Dodge had swept the top four spots of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Brian Rose , Scott Riggs , Richard Petty , Jimmy Hensley , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Angie Wilson , Jim Smith