The Weekly Newsletter of Team Mopar Monday, November 17, 2003
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Musgrave victim of "dirty" racing, edged for championship at Homestead
Ted Musgrave and his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team from Ultra Motorsports was in position to win the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver championship Friday as the series season finale came to a nail-biting close at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
But on a single-file restart with two laps left, Musgrave received a controversial black flag penalty for passing before the start/finish line, relegating him to the end of the lead lap and a 13th-place finish.
Musgrave finishes the season in third place in championship points, the closest in series history, just 18 points behind winner Travis Kvapil, and 9 points behind second-place finisher Dennis Setzer. Had those three drivers maintained their positions prior to the restart (Kvapil - Setzer - Musgrave ran seventh, eighth, ninth, respectively), Musgrave would have been tied for the points lead with Kvapil and awarded the series championship based on the tiebreaker (race victories).
Musgrave qualified 10th and ran in the top-15 most of the day before making his move toward the front in the latter parts of the race. His Mopar crew made several adjustments near the end and put the Dodge Ram in position to win the championship until Musgrave was forced to swerve to avoid a slow truck ahead of him.
On Thursday, Musgrave clinched the Bud Pole award for the NCTS, courtesy of his series-leading four pole positions on the season.
Dodge Ram driver Bobby Hamilton picked up the victory of the race at Homestead, scoring an additional $10,000 for winning from the pole.
Dodge driver Brendan Gaughan, who went into Homestead leading the points, got caught up in an accident on Lap 100, leaving Dodge's hopes for a driver title in the hands of the No. 1 Mopar team. Dodge easily clinched the manufacturer championship with five races to go.
Musgrave and Ultra Motorsports had a very strong record at Homestead, picking up a victory in 2001 and a second-place finish there last year. Ultra drivers Andy Houston and P.J. Jones earned solid top-ten finishes at the newly reconfigured speedway Friday.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will open its 2004 season in Daytona, Fla., in February.
"I don't know what to say really. You've got a restart there, and Travis [Kvapil] must not be good at restarts or he's the smartest [expletive] in the world.
"He nailed the brakes and I had to turn left to avoid him, knowing it's going to draw a penalty.
"All I can say is next year you're going to see a whole new Ted Musgrave. He's going to be the dirtiest son of a gun out there on the racetrack, and you might as well throw that rule book away. I ain't going by it no more."
-- a frustrated Ted Musgrave, after a controversial penalty cost him and his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team the NCTS championship.
Kruseman wins Oval Nationals
Cory Kruseman dominated the main feature of the Oval Nationals at Perris Speedway yesterday in Lake Perris, Calif., in his No. 21x Mopar/Kunz sprint car from Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises.
Kruseman started the race from the pole position, but briefly fell back after the green flag waved. "The Kruser" regained the lead on Lap 10 of 50 and never looked back, using two lapped vehicles to assist in blocking the second-place challenger.
The race was the finale of the Non-Wing World Championship, sanctioned by the Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA). Kruseman finished second in championship points, followed by the Mopar entry driven by J.J. Yeley, his record-breaking Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises teammate. Kruseman has picked up six wins in SCRA competition so far this season, with the famed Jack Kindoll Classic on the schedule at Perris this Saturday.
The Mopars of the USAC National Midget Series will also return to action this Saturday at Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park.
"This is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career. The Oval Nationals is a pretty nice deal, and it's definitely the most money that I have ever won."
-- Cory Kruseman after picking up $30,000 for winning the finale of the Budweiser Oval Nationals.