Dodge Cup drivers ready to attack Pocono triangle; Red-hot Rams on a roll heading to Lone Star state. LONG POND, Pa. (June 5, 2002) -- Strange things often happen at Pocono International Raceway. Kyle Petty, driver of the No. 45 Sprint ...
Dodge Cup drivers ready to attack Pocono triangle; Red-hot Rams on a roll heading to Lone Star state.
LONG POND, Pa. (June 5, 2002) -- Strange things often happen at Pocono International Raceway. Kyle Petty, driver of the No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T, encountered a Twilight Zone experience at the 2.5-mile triangular track a few years ago.
As Petty battled the late Davey Allison for the race lead, the 41-year-old driver from Level Cross, N.C., saw a fan standing on the race track.
"That's the most bizarre thing I think anybody could have happen to them in a race car," Petty said. "I can't imagine anything more bizarre than to come out of a corner and have a fan standing in front of you in the straightaway. That's probably the strangest thing to me personally that I've ever been involved in in any race."
Other eerie happenings at NASCAR's version of the Bermuda Triangle include a dense fog that hung on top of the mountain all day and eventually canceled qualifying and caution flags thrown during races for animals on the track.
With a little luck, Dodge Cup drivers hope to outrun the fog and all the animals in Sunday's Pocono 500. In other action involving Dodge and Mopar-backed teams this weekend, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will compete on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway and the Pennzoil World of Outlaws will race at Farmer City, Ill., on Friday and Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday.
TV, RADIO WEEKEND SCHEDULE
* Friday, June 7, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying at Pocono for Sunday's Pocono 500. Fox Sports Net and MRN Radio. 3 p.m.
* Friday, June 7, 2002. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. ESPN and MRN Radio. 9 p.m.
* Saturday, June 8, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour at Pocono . FX-6:30 p.m. taped .
* Sunday, June 9, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup pre-race show for Pocono 500. FX and MRN Radio. 12:30 p.m.
* Sunday, June 9, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup Pocono 500. FX and MRN radio. 1 p.m.
NASCAR Winston Cup
Petty last won at Pocono in 1993. In 39 career starts he has two top fives and 12 top 10s in 39 starts at the 2.5-mile triangle. Petty has only one top 10 finish in 2002, but he has finished 23rd or better in the last 10 races and moved to a tie for 19th in the series standings after his 20th-place finish last week at Dover.
"That's the first time we'd run in the top five in a couple of years, and it felt really good," Petty said."We got caught in the pits and got a couple of laps down and stayed there the rest of the day, but we were running just as fast as the leaders and we ended up with a 20th-place finish. That's our zone."
Petty is tied with Jimmy Spencer, driver of the No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T, for 19th in the standings. Spencer is a native of Berwick, Pa. He has one top five and five top 10 finishes in 24 career starts at Pocono. Petty Enterprises driver John Andretti is a Bethlehem, Pa., native, and he recently tested at Pocono.
"John hasn't had the success there he would liked to have had because he'd like to go up there and dominate every race," Kyle Petty said."He had a pretty good test. We just wanted to see what the wear and tear would be on the engine up there. That's a hard place on engines.
"You're shifting and you've got these vast differences in the rpm bands. You could be as low as 4500 or 5000 or as high as 9200 or 9300. We just wanted to go see what the valve train looked like and what the bottom end looked like.
"I think every week is a test for the one-engine rule, and I think it's pretty much a dead issue as far as I'm concerned. I don't think the one-engine rule has affected the way this sport has run in one way, shape or form."
Other Dodge drivers have visited the Pocono winner's circle. Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T, leads all active drivers with five Pocono wins. In 38 career starts, Elliott has 21 top 10s at Pocono. Evernham Motorsports teammate Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T, has an even better Pocono record. Mayfield has won two races at Pocono in only 15 starts and has seven top 10s.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Ted Musgrave will be gunning for his second straight victory and third of the season in his No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram in the O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Musgrave led a 1-2 Dodge sweep at Dover last Friday with Robert Pressley in the No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram finishing a close second.
Fast has been the only word to describe the Dodge Rams of Ultra Motorsports, who have an average qualifying position of 2.3 coming into Texas, and have yet to qualify outside of the top-five in 2002. Musgrave and Jason Leffler have each earned two poles, and both have led laps in all five races of the 2002 season.
Leffler will drive the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram that started first in both Texas races last year, setting the track's qualifying record at 181.953 mph. (29.678 sec.) in October. The Long Beach, Calif., native has had the fastest Dodge in three of the past four races and is looking to make his break-through first series win under the lights at Texas on Friday.
The Dodge Rams out of the Bobby Hamilton Racing stables are also gathering speed after strong finishes at Dover. Pressley moved up five spots in the standings to seventh with his runner-up finish last week. Rookie teammate Bill Lester, in the No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Ram, turned in his second consecutive career-best finish by placing 12th last weekend.
Brendan Gaughan was the top-finishing Dodge Ram in last year's O'Reilly 400, taking a career-high second place finish in his No. 62 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Ram. Gaughan extended his lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings to nine points last weekend, earning his second top-10 of the year - a seventh place finish at Dover. Gaughan leads Lester, 65-53, in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings. Dodge also leads the manufacturer's championship standings, 43-38, over Chevrolet.
Pennzoil World of Outlaws
Three drivers have exchanged the lead in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws series during the first third (26 races) of the season, and Mark Kinser, driver of the Mopar-powered Maxim, has been in the thick of the battle all season.
Mark Kinser won the Outlaw title in 1996 and 1999 and finished second to Danny Lasoski last year in the closest championship race in the history of the series. Kinser has encountered some tough titles recently as his father and crew chief, 17-time series champion and car owner Karl Kinser recovers from hernia surgery. Still, Kinser stands third in the series standings with 3,781 points and three victories.
Lasoski leads the way with 3,933 points and six wins, while Steve Kinser is second with 3,916 points and eight victories.
The Outlaws will race on Friday at Farmer City Raceway in Farmer City, Ill., and again on Saturday in the U.S. Dirt Nationals at Terre Haute Action Track in Terre Haute, Ind.