Late race miscue spoils strong run for Musgrave, Team Mopar Dodge. SOUTH BOSTON, VA (September 21, 2002) - A late-race penalty proved to be costly for Ted Musgrave and his No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, forcing a 14th-place finish in...
Late race miscue spoils strong run for Musgrave, Team Mopar Dodge.
SOUTH BOSTON, VA (September 21, 2002) - A late-race penalty proved to be costly for Ted Musgrave and his No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, forcing a 14th-place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Hardees 250 at South Boston Speedway Saturday.
"It was a pretty tough day for the Mopar Team," said Musgrave. "It seems like we tried everything, but nothing worked. Toward the end of the race, I had pretty much burned the right-rear tire off the Mopar Dodge and lost a lot of positions. We got a caution with about five laps to go, so we decided to come in for tires. We were only going to lose one position on the racetrack by pitting, but I guess the truck was out of our pit stall by a couple of inches and NASCAR penalized us a lap. We had a good truck. There's no doubt we were capable of a Top-10. It's just a shame the way it turned out."
In time trials, Musgrave blistered the four-tenths mile South Boston circuit in 15.681 seconds (91.831 miles per hour), chalking up his third Bud Pole Award of the season.
"Qualifying went well," commented Musgrave. "We backed up what we ran in the morning practice and a lot of times that's tough to do at a place like South Boston. It was awfully close. There were a lot of good trucks and most of these guys in the Truck Series come from a short track background. Our whole strategy was to start up front and stay there. That was our third pole of the season, so it was a good way to start the day."
At the drop of the green flag, Musgrave bolted out to a five-truck lead and paced field for the first 92 laps. Following the fifth of 10 caution flags that plagued the 250-lap event, Musgrave made the hard left onto pit road for fresh right side tires and a full load of fuel.
"We decided to take right sides and fuel about 100 laps in," said Musgrave. "We won the race on that strategy last year, but this year was a little different. The guys who took four tires really shined towards the end of the race."
Now in 11th, the Midwest short track ace methodically plotted his course back towards the front. By lap 157, Musgrave worked himself back to third, but a loose handling condition finally took its toll, forcing the Franklin, WI driver as far back as 11th in the running order until the final caution period of the afternoon with only five laps remaining.
That's when Musgrave headed back to pit road for fresh tires, making consecutive stops on laps 249 and 250, only to have the final ill-fated stop relegate the nine-time career NCTS winner to 14th in the lineup.
The green flag flew for the final time of the day on Lap 255, setting up overtime and a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag.
"With about 40 laps to go, I was really in trouble," explained Musgrave. "I didn't have any right-rear tire left and I was fading back. I guess I made a mistake and got over the line of our pit box by a couple of inches and that put us a lap down. We were going to try and put on four tires and see if we could make up a few spots under the green, white, checkered. Unfortunately, with the penalty, it didn't work out. We lost some points, but we're coming up on three tracks where I won last year. We're going back to Las Vegas in a few weeks so hopefully our luck will change."
The finish netted Musgrave $11,840 in prize money and stalled his charge towards the NCTS championship. Musgrave is currently third in the points standings, 112 markers behind leader Mike Bliss.
The Orleans 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will take the green flag Sunday, October 13 at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 19th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast live on MRN Radio nationwide.