Mopar Speed Monday, November 8, 2004 USAC S Jay Drake wins the series title The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises trio of Jay Drake, Cory Kruseman and Josh Wise wrapped up the 2004 USAC National Sprint Car Series in style, as all three drivers...
Monday, November 8, 2004
Jay Drake wins the series title
The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises trio of Jay Drake, Cory Kruseman and Josh Wise wrapped up the 2004 USAC National Sprint Car Series in style, as all three drivers finished the series championship in the top 10. When the checkered flag flew at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., on Saturday night, Drake had won his first USAC National Sprint Car Series title, Kruseman had earned a third-place finish, and Wise had tied up the 10th position.
Drake and the No. 20 team set quick time on Friday night and went on to win the first heat race of the evening. The newly crowned champs finished the feature event on Saturday night, comfortably in eighth place. Wise in the No. 20s car picked up a third-place feature race finish on Saturday night, after locking himself into the event with a win in the third heat race on Friday night.
"Winning the championship is just a huge relief," Drake said. "It's been a very long year, and it's good to see our hard work finally pay off. We've worked to be consistent this season, and it's that consistency that has given us the opportunity to win the title."
Kruseman, in his last ride for Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises in the No. 21 machine, took the checkered flag in 11th position on Saturday. "The Kruser" fought his way to his first-ever top-five finish in the USAC National Sprint Car Series this season, after finishing sixth in 2003. After two seasons with Mopar, Kruseman will return to California next year to pursue other opportunities.
"To be on top of any series, you've got to be with the best team and have the best people around you. Being a part of the Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team means that we're a part of the best team. We've got a great group of sponsors, and without sponsors like Mopar and Vital Express, you can't win championships. This championship is for everyone - Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises, Mopar, Vital Express, and everyone who worked to make it possible."
Danny Lasoski finishes the series in second
"We kind of struggled there for a while and let the King [Steve Kinser] get away from us, but it looks like we've got the momen- tum back here at the end of the year ... and we're looking for bigger and better things out here next year."
Danny Lasoski debuted the new Mopar 410 Aluminum Sprint Car engine block in top form at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday night, leading all 25 laps of the preliminary A-main feature event. "The Dude" qualified in second position then went on to win the second dash event before dominating the A-main event.
Lasoski was locked into the A-main finale on Saturday night, but the No. 20 team was forced to change an engine after warm-ups. The team retired for the evening after experiencing more mechanical problems while leading the dash event. Lasoski was credited with 25th position after taking a provisional start in the A-main event.
"I have the best crew chief in the world with Jimmy Carr. He, Todd Splain and Mikey [Kuemper] have been working hard, and driving the JD Byrider Home Depot Mopar car has been good to me all year," Lasoski said.
The No. 20 team earned the runner-up position in the 2004 World of Outlaws Series Championship for the second time in as many years. Lasoski finished the 2004 season with 11 wins, eight poles, 44 top-five and 63 top-10 finishes. The No. 20 team finished only 246 points behind champion Steve Kinser.
Lasoski and the No. 20 team will begin the 2005 season in February, after competing in December in Australia with the World of Outlaws Series.
Steve Francis wins second place in the series championship
Steve Francis wrapped up the 2004 World of Outlaws Late Model Series season last week at the Delta Bowl Speedway with a second-place finish. Francis pieced together a stellar season for a runner-up finish in the inaugural World of Outlaws Late Model Series Championship.
"The Kentucky Colonel" was also honored at the series' awards banquet for winning both the first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Volusia Speedway and the highest paying series event of the season at the Red River Valley Speedway. Francis won the inaugural event at Volusia Speedway in February, while he captured the $40,000 payoff at Red River Valley Speedway in August.
Francis will resume racing in December, as he heads "down under" to compete as a part of Team USA in Australia. The 2005 World of Outlaws Late Model Series is scheduled to begin in February.
"We kind of ran second all year long. We just seemed to come up short, and that's the way things went all season. It's our plan to [compete] again next year, and hopefully come up one spot better. We're looking forward to competing in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series again next season, and hopefully we can win the title."
Ted Musgrave remains in contention for the series title
"I've got a shot. I've never given up. Don't get me wrong. It was really bleak because we're so far behind right now. We could have only been some 40 points out with two to go. I told the guys we only needed 30 points a race, but that's the way it is ... we haven't given up."
Ted Musgrave and the No. 1 Ultra Motorsports team took another late-season blow over the weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, as he picked up a bittersweet 19th-place finish. Musgrave qualified seventh for the event, but a flat tire forced him to pull into the pits on lap 123. After changing a tire, Musgrave regrouped to finish 19th.
The No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team ran well for a good part of the event, with Musgrave in the lead for 73 laps, the most of any competitor. The No. 1 team maintained its third-place rank in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings, and earned 116 points and 10 bonus points for their efforts. Musgrave is only 120 points behind series leader Bobby Hamilton as they head into the final two races of the season. The No. 1 team is still mathematically in the running for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.
"The guys back in the shop built me an awesome truck," Musgrave said. "Everything was right, but it was an act of God again. We had a flat tire. It doesn't really knock us completely out of the point championship, but it really puts us in a big hole and there's nothing you can do. We're just going to go to Darlington and kind of do like we did today - just try and dominate and win that race with all four tires with air in them. We've been [going for the win] ever since a couple weeks ago; all we've been doing is [trying not to] worry about the points, just trying to dominate.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series moves to Darlington Raceway this weekend for the Darlington 200. In the series' appearance at the facility last season, Musgrave qualified third and finished second. Live coverage of the Darlington 200 will begin on the Motor Racing Network at 7:30 p.m. EST and on Speed Channel at 8:00 p.m. EST.