Dodge Motorsports weekend preview 2002-03-13

Dodge teams counting on Luck of the Irish in St. Patrick's Day weekend racing action DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 14, 2002) - Dodge teams will rub the Blarney Stone and count on some Irish luck as racing action shifts into high gear on St. Patrick's...

Dodge teams counting on Luck of the Irish in St. Patrick's Day weekend racing action

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 14, 2002) - Dodge teams will rub the Blarney Stone and count on some Irish luck as racing action shifts into high gear on St. Patrick's Day weekend.

The Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway will highlight a loaded weekend of March Madness racing action. Sterling Marlin, driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T, has accumulated a 74-point advantage over rookie Ryan Newman in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings after the first four races. Marlin has scored four top 10 finishes this season and seven straight, including the past three races in 2001.

Meanwhile, 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton led the way for Dodge with a seventh place finish last week at Atlanta and moved to third in the series standings. Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, trails Marlin by just 80 points. Burton won the last Winston Cup race at Darlington, the 2001 Mountain Dew Southern 500.

In other motorsports action this weekend featuring Dodge teams, Robert Pressley will try for his second straight victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Friday at Darlington Raceway in the Craftsman Anniversary 200.

Action in the 33rd annual POWERADE Drag Racing Series Gatornationals will begin on Friday at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla., and Gene Wilson, the 2001 IHRA Pro Stock World Champion, has been named the new driver for the factory-backed Mopar Parts Neon R/T NHRA Pro Stock entry of Nickens Brothers Racing. The Pennzoil World of Outlaws will compete in the Spring Nationals at Mesquite, Texas, on Friday and Saturday and then move to State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

Here is the weekend lineup for Dodge- and Mopar-backed cars and trucks:

* Thursday, March 14-16 - NHRA POWERade Gatornationals Qualifying. Television broadcast (tape delay) Saturday, 8-10 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2.

* Friday, March 15-16 - Pennzoil World of Outlaws Spring Nationals at Devils Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas. Radio broadcast on SCN Radio begins at 9:00 p.m. EST Friday and Saturday. Broadcast may be heard via internet at http://www.sprintcarnet.com.

* Friday, March 15 - NASCAR Craftsman Anniversary 200 Craftsman Truck Series Race 4:30 p.m. (EST). Live MRN radio, 4 p.m. Television broadcast (tape delay) Saturday 6-8:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Re-broadcast will air on Tuesday 3:00-5:00 a.m. on ESPN.

* Friday, March 15 - NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying for Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway, 2:05 p.m. (EST). Live broadcast on Fox Sports Net, TV-FX and MRN Radio.

* Saturday, March 16 - 11:15 a.m.-noon. NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour for Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. Television broadcast (tape delay) 3 p.m. on TV-FX.

* Sunday, March 17 - Pennzoil World of Outlaws hits the newly reconfigured 3/8-mile oval at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla. Race begins at 4:00 (CST).

* Sunday, March 17 - Final Round NHRA Gatornationals broadcast, 5-7 p.m. ESPN2. Re-broadcast of Final Round NHRA Gatornationals, Tuesday, 2:30-4:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

* Sunday, March 17 - Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 pre-race show 12:30 p.m., TV-Fox and MRN Radio. Live broadcast of Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, TV-Fox and MRN Radio at 1 p.m.

NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES

Dodge has won two of the first four races this season and leads Ford, 27-25, in the manufacturers championship standings. Pontiac is third with 20 points, followed by Chevrolet with 16.

Burton, a 40-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., has had his share of recent success at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval in South Carolina. He hopes to take up where he left off last September at Darlington.

"I've always liked that track," Burton said. "It's a challenge physically and mentally. You can have a really fast car, but a lot of things can happen to yourself and the car during the course of the race. You just have to really stay on your toes.

"The most important thing, is you've got to have a great team give you a great race car. It doesn't matter where you go. If you don't have a car capable of winning and you've got a 20th-place car, the chances of 19 cars wrecking and you winning the race is slim. You've got to have a good car to give you the ability to win the race."

The three Petty Enterprises Dodge Intrepid R/T teams will try to keep the Dodge ball rolling after two strong finishes last week at Atlanta. Buckshot Jones drove his No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge to a 12th-place finish, while Kyle Petty brought the No. 45 Sprint Dodge home 15th. John Andretti, driver of the No. 43 Cheerios Dodge, got caught up in an accident and finished 36th at Atlanta, but Andretti scored an impressive sixth-place finish last year in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES

Dodge NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams return to action at Darlington after a four-week layoff following Robert Pressley's victory in Bobby Hamilton's No. 18 Dodge.

Inclement weather halted last year's Craftsman Anniversary 200 12 laps short of the scheduled, 147-lap distance, marking just the fourth time a series race has been abbreviated. Bobby Hamilton Racing posted a one-five finish at Darlington with winner Hamilton and Joe Ruttman. Three Dodge Rams started and finished the race within the top five that day.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship leader Pressley has won a pair of NASCAR Busch Grand National Series events at Darlington Raceway. His victories came back-to-back in 1992 (fall) and 1993 (spring).

NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series

Wilson, a resident of Canton, Ga., captured eight IHRA national event titles en route to winning the 2001 Pro Stock world championship. The-29-year old currently holds IHRA's national elapsed time and speed records while driving a Charlie Hunt-owned Pro Stock machine. Wilson qualified No. 1 in a record nine-straight IHRA national events in 2001, and holds both elapsed time and speed records at nine different tracks.

"He did a tremendous job in the race car during testing and he possesses a lot of character," said Nickens Brothers Racing team owner David Nickens. "He has a lot of credentials in IHRA and we feel that he is a great match for this team, and that's important for overall team chemistry."

Wilson is the son of television personality Orlando Wilson, who hosts many outdoors and fishing shows on various networks.

"We're happy David Nickens found a driver that he feels can get the job done on Sunday," said Bret Fischer, DaimlerChrysler drag racing program manager. "After an extensive driver search, it was difficult for David to find a driver with the skill set that we were looking for. Gene has proved himself in other forms of racing, and we'll find out soon enough if he can perform in the NHRA."

Mopar Parts, the parts arm of the DaimlerChrysler Motors Corp., sponsors three professional teams and four drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, including Nitro Funny Car driver Dean Skuza of Skuza Motorsports, the factory-backed Pro Stock team of Nickens Brothers Racing with drivers Darrell Alderman and Gene Wilson and the Pro Stock team of Larry Morgan Racing with driver Larry Morgan.

Two Dodges made final-round appearances in two separate categories during last year's Gatornationals. (Skuza, Funny Car; Osborne, Pro Stock)

A Dodge has made nine final-round appearances in NHRA Pro Stock competition at Gainesville, earning four national event victories. (Darrell Alderman, 1995; Alderman 1989; Don Carlton, 1972; Ronnie Sox, 1971). Alderman was the last Dodge driver to claim a victory at Gainesville in 1995.

PENNZOIL WORLD OF OUTLAWS

Mark Kinser, driver of the Mopar-powered Maxim, will enter Friday's action at the spring nationals ranked third in the WoO standings after the first four races. Steve Kinser leads the way with 713 points to Mark Kinser's 669, a 44-point advantage. The two Kinsers are the only drivers to post top five finishes in all four races this season.

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck , NHRA , World of Outlaws
Drivers John Andretti , Ward Burton , Bobby Hamilton , Kyle Petty , Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Robert Pressley , Mark Kinser , Joe Ruttman , Gene Wilson , Steve Kinser