DARLINGTON, SC (May 6, 2001)- If experience is the key to success at the "Track To Tough To Tame," Ted Musgrave and the Mopar Performance Parts Dodge should have the field covered as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series heads to the Darlington...
DARLINGTON, SC (May 6, 2001)- If experience is the key to success at the "Track To Tough To Tame," Ted Musgrave and the Mopar Performance Parts Dodge should have the field covered as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series heads to the Darlington Raceway for the inaugural Darlington 200. "Darlington is a race track that I really enjoy going to," Musgrave said. "It's a drivers track and you really have to be on your toes every inch of the way. You can enter turn three just a little harder then the lap before and the truck will be in the wall and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't rest at Darlington. It looks like you can, but every minute you have to be thinking.
"A lot of exciting stuff will happen in one and two as well," Musgrave continued. "If you go in nose to tail, the guy behind you can slip underneath in the middle of the corner and take the position away and you can actually get that position back coming off turn two down the back straightaway. I lost third place to Dale Earnhardt on the last lap in that very situation. I thought I had him going into one and sure enough he snuck by me coming off of two. I learned that move from him, so my experience is going to be an asset for this Mopar Performance Parts Dodge. It's going to be exciting."
At the series' last stop in St Louis, Musgrave continued his domination, by winning the Ram Tough 200 from the pole position, a feat that should keep the momentum rolling for the "Ultra Bad Boys" heading into Darlington. Over the course of 11 NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, Musgrave amassed 22 starts and two Top-5 finishes on "The Lady in Black." A two-time Truck Series winner this season, Musgrave narrowly missed a Darlington Winston Cup victory in 1997 finishing second to Dale Jarrett in the TranSouth 400.
Musgrave's Winston Cup experience and his familiarity with the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped Darlington oval has taught the Franklin, WI native that a good handling truck will be the key to victory this time around. "Handling is the biggest key at Darlington," Musgrave said. "I don't care what kind of motor you have, if the truck doesn't handle properly, you won't go anywhere. Turn three is so tricky that it becomes somewhat of a guessing game as to how hard you can drive it in there." Tire strategy will also play a huge role in the outcome of the Darlington 200 as lap speeds quickly decrease on the course racing surface, something Musgrave is well aware of.
"You'll see guys go out there and really run fast, but it may only happen for 10 laps," Musgrave said. "Then the guy that you didn't see around much at the beginning of the run will be leading the race." Musgrave will also benefit from the experience of Team Mopar crew chief Fred Wanke, who has participated in 10 events on the narrow, high-banked oval.
"There's nothing like experience at Darlington," explained Wanke. "Ted's experience is going to be real big down there. My experience there will be a help, but it's not as important as having a driver the caliber of Ted. You need a driver who knows what he wants the truck to feel like and with all of the laps Ted has at Darlington he knows just what he wants. All I have to do is give him what he wants to feel."
The inaugural Darlington 200 will take the green flag Saturday, May 12 at4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The sixth race of the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series telecast live on ESPN and broadcast live on MRN Radio worldwide.