SPARTA, KY (July 8, 2002) - Ted Musgrave racked up a division-leading seven NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins in 2001. If it hadn't been for bad luck and a lapped truck in last year's Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway, it might have been...
SPARTA, KY (July 8, 2002) - Ted Musgrave racked up a division-leading seven NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins in 2001. If it hadn't been for bad luck and a lapped truck in last year's Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway, it might have been eight.
"We had them covered last year, that's for sure," said Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge. "We had a very good handling truck and we were definitely the class of the field. Unfortunately, a lapped truck lost control as I was passing him and completely demolished our truck while I was half a lap ahead of the field, three-quarters of the way through the race. Obviously, that was a heartbreaker for us, but then again, there was nothing I could have done differently to have avoided that from happening. Hopefully we'll get some better results this time."
Despite the dominating performance, Musgrave comes into this year's annual NCTS classic at the 1.5-mile Sparta, KY oval undaunted and cautiously optimistic.
"When you start talking about Kentucky, you have to remember that it's no longer the track as we know it because of the repaving job," explained Musgrave. "I really liked the track the way it was and the bumps in the track gave it some nice personality. That really made the place unique where you had to have the handling of the truck working very well. Now that it has been repaved, there's going to be a lot of grip. The nice part about it is that there should be two and maybe even three grooves out there, which can make for some really neat passing."
Musgrave's experience at Kentucky should help him make the most of his chances in this year's annual NCTS clash. At the very least, the veteran driver should be able to figure out what adjustments will be needed to put his Mopar Dodge out front. In fact, he's already got a pretty good idea what's needed to be in the Kentucky fast lane.
"The way it is now, it's going to be darn near a wide open situation," said Musgrave. "The track is going to be very, very fast. The guy that can stay in the gas the most is going to be the one that wins the race. But now with that type of pavement we might have to think about fuel strategy. I'm optimistic about going, but I'm not really sure what to do because I really liked the old Kentucky and we don't know what it's like with the new pavement, but Team Mopar has overcome a lot of things at new venues and new racetracks. Maybe it will be a good omen for us because last year didn't turn out so well."
Additionally, Musgrave will top the $1 million mark in NCTS earnings by taking green flag at this week's event, becoming the fastest million dollar man in series' history, reaching the milestone in just 37 starts.
"That's a pretty cool statistic," commented Musgrave. "It's just a credit to Jim Smith and Ultra Motorsports. Jimmy and all the guys have provided me with great equipment and the opportunity to be successful. It's been a great ride so far, now I want to see if I can become the fastest man to reach $2 million."
Last week at Kansas Speedway, Musgrave battled an ill-handling truck for the majority of the 167-lap event, but still came away with a fifth-place finish, his seventh Top-5 in 10 races this season. More importantly, the NCTS points leader extended his lead in the championship chase to 61 markers over second-place Mike Bliss.
"We had a tough day at Kansas, that's for sure," commented Musgrave. "I'm not sure what the problem was, but we still took a bad day and turned it into a Top-5. That's how you win championships. I'm pretty excited about going to Kentucky this weekend. We had the dominant truck last year, so hopefully we can do it again this year, minus the wreck."
The Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway will take the green flag Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 11th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN radio nationwide.