Monday, November 22, 2004
Ted Musgrave finishes season in third
Ted Musgrave narrowly missed a victory in the final battle of the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship last Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The veteran driver brought the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram across the finish line in second position, behind race winner and teammate Kasey Kahne. Musgrave drove a well-executed race, as he and the Ultra Motorsports team were looking to overtake the second position in the series' points chase. For the second year in a row, Musgrave and the No. 1 team finished the season in third position in the final points standing.
Musgrave's stellar performance earned him the Mobil 1 Oil Command Performance "Driver of the Race" award, as the team was rewarded for its solid effort. At the series' award banquet, Musgrave was also awarded the Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps during the season. The team's third-place points finish wasn't indicative of the team's stellar efforts, as they overcame early season struggles to battle their way back to a top-three finish. In Musgrave's four years as a NCTS competitor, he has never finished out of the top-three in the series points championship.
Kasey Kahne picked up his second victory in as many starts on Friday. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender has written his name in the history books as the first driver to win in his first two NCTS starts. Kahne took the lead on lap 93 and held off a late race charge by Musgrave to earn the win.
Bobby Hamilton completed the Dodge Motorsports sweep at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as his series' championship run gave Dodge the series title. Dodge also picked up the Manufacturer's Championship for the 2004 season.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will open the 2005 season at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2005.
"We're ready for a break, but we're ready for next season too. We've already tested at Talladega for Daytona. I've got my Daytona truck ready. We've got a couple of downforce trucks ready. Yeah, we've got to come out of the box kicking. We're trying to be ahead of the game for once. We've never done that before. So, this year coming up we're going to try and turn things around."
Jeg Coughlin to join Don Schumacher Racing in 2005
Jeg Coughlin will race the brand-new Hemi-powered Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T next year.
Three-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin will join the powerful Don Schumacher Racing camp in 2005 with a brand-new Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T. Bob Glidden, the 10-time Pro Stock champion with 85 national event wins to his credit, will serve as Coughlin's crew chief using motors built at Schumacher's Indianapolis-based shop.
After winning the 1992 Super Gas championship and Pro Stock titles in 2000 and 2002 with his family-owned race teams, Coughlin cited his desire to make another run at being No. 1 in the world. By aligning his race team with Don Schumacher Racing, Coughlin will benefit from Schumacher's alliance with DaimlerChrysler, Dodge and Mopar Parts and their research and development departments.
"We couldn't be more excited," Coughlin said. "We've all seen the success Don has experienced in the other three professional categories and he's eager to make a mark in Pro Stock as well. He's assembled an awesome team and I fully expect us to contend for the championship from the start of the season forward."
"Three-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin and Team Jeg's will make an outstanding addition to my team," said Schumacher. "Jeg has clearly demonstrated his driving talent in the Pro Stock class and his desire to win is a passion we both share. I couldn't ask for a stronger driver/crew chief combination for my new Pro Stock team than Jeg and 10-time Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden. I am looking forward to working with them in 2005 in what I hope is a championship season."
The partnership between Jeg's Mail Order and Don Schumacher Racing will feature associate-level signage on all of the team's vehicles, including the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster of new champion Tony Schumacher, the Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car of Gary Scelzi, the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car of Whit Bazemore, and the U.S. Army Suzukis of three-time champions Angelle Savoie and Antron Brown.
"Obviously, I'm gaining some very talented teammates," Coughlin said. "Running a race team that is capable of winning a POWERade championship takes a tremendous amount of work and effort. And with the talents of Don Schumacher Racing behind me, I'll be able to focus 100 percent of my attention to driving the race car and working toward winning another championship."
A winner of the Super Stock Hemi Challenge at this year's 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals behind the wheel of Michael Ogburn and Harry Holton's West Coast Hemi's Barracuda, Coughlin is also excited about the move to Mopar.
"The Hemi engine is synonymous with high performance," Coughlin said. "We've all seen the success the Mopar drivers have had since the Hemi was reintroduced a few years ago, and the Dodge Stratus R/T is a very competitive design that can run evenly with the GM cars."
Coughlin will begin testing his new race car in mid-December in Florida.
"Everyone who knows me knows I'd race every weekend if I could," Coughlin said. "I love drag racing and I can't wait to get in my new ride and give it a whirl. The 2005 season will be here before we know it, and we want to be up to full speed by Pomona. We'll test as much as we need to for that to happen."
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing returns to Pomona Raceway February 10-13, 2005, to kick off the first race of the 2005 season.
Tracy Hines takes third at Tucson Raceway Park
Tracy Hines made the cross-country flight from Homestead-Miami Speedway worthwhile over the weekend, as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie earned a third-place feature event finish at Tucson Raceway Park in the No. 11 Wilke-PAK Motorsports machine. Hines qualified second quick behind Steele and earned a second-place finish in the second heat race en route to picking up the top-five finish.
Dave Steele posted the quickest qualifying speed at Tucson Raceway Park, to set the pole for the Old Pueblo Classic. Steele turned a lap of 14.445 seconds around the 3/8-mile oval in the No. 2 Nicholas Motorsports entry. After finishing second in the first heat race, Steele went on to take the checkered flag in 11th position.
Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises' Josh Wise and the No. 20 team took the weekend off to concentrate on their efforts for the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway on November 25 at Irwindale Speedway, in Irwindale, Calif. Wise continues to maintain second position in the USAC National Midget Car Series points chase. Steele and Hines will also compete in the 64th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix.