Dodge Motorsports weekend preview

Marlin, Elliott bring dueling Dodge show to Brickyard; Ram drivers set for manufacturers' showdown at IRP. INDIANAPOLIS (July 31, 2002) -- Intrepid R/T drivers Bill Elliott and Sterling Marlin will take their dueling Dodges to Indianapolis ...

Marlin, Elliott bring dueling Dodge show to Brickyard; Ram drivers set for manufacturers' showdown at IRP.

INDIANAPOLIS (July 31, 2002) -- Intrepid R/T drivers Bill Elliott and Sterling Marlin will take their dueling Dodges to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the ninth annual Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race.

Marlin led 106 of 175 laps last Sunday in the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, but Elliott took charge with 19 laps remaining and held on for a 1.721-second victory over Kurt Busch. Marlin held on for third place and increased his lead in the series standings to 106 points over Mark Martin.

Elliott moved to ninth in the standings with his fifth career victory at Pocono and enters Sunday's Brickyard 400 just 308 points behind Marlin and only 69 points behind fifth-place Busch.

Dodge teams also won races last weekend in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Robert Pressley in the No. 18 Square D Dodge Ram at Michigan International Speedway, Casey Atwood in the No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T in the Pepsi ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway and Hank Parker Jr. in the No. 36 GNC Live Well Dodge Intrepid R/T in the NetZero 250 Busch Grand National race at Pikes Peak.

"No one weekend makes or breaks a program, but clearly there are milestones that are passed, and this was one of them," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing." Getting the car homologated was one; getting all 10 cars qualified for Daytona in our first race was another; winning our first race last summer with Sterling was the third; winning Daytona this year was the fourth; and I'd say this is our fifth milestone. That says we've come far enough now that we're a team to beat. When you sweep every NASCAR series in a weekend that says you've arrived, you're more than competitive, and you're ready to take on all comers. That's good, but it doesn't end anything. We still need a driver's championship, a manufacturer's championship...there are still a lot of goals out there. But certainly a year-and-a-half into our return, it's very satisfying."

And what would a Brickyard 400 victory on Sunday mean to Dodge?

"I grew up in Indiana," Julow said."The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a tabernacle for Indiana boys growing up on race cars. It's probably not quite as big as Daytona yet with the fans, but if you talk to the drivers, there are probably as many drivers who -- if they could only win one -- would pick the Brickyard over Daytona as would go the other way. So it's clearly as important a race as there is."

In other racing action this weekend, Dodge Ram drivers will try to break the deadlock in the manufacturers standings with Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Dodge heads west to compete in the POWERade NHRA Drag Racing Series at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and the Pennzoil World of Outlaws will race on Friday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

NASCAR Winston Cup

Marlin remains first in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings for the 19th straight race. His 106-point advantage over Martin is his biggest point lead in the last five races, since Michigan in June when he led by 110 over second-place Jimmie Johnson Marlin has scored 16 top-15 finishes and 11 top-10 finishes in 20 races this season.

He is also the only driver to remain in the top 10 in the point standings since the Daytona 500 in 2001. Marlin was ranked fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings after 20 races one year ago. Marlin has scored only two top-10 finishes in his eight races at Indy. Marlin started eighth and finished second in last year's Brickyard 400.

Elliott's victory at Pocono was his first since he won at Homestead last November. Elliott has scored nine top-10 finishes and has posted 13 top-15 finishes this season. He was ranked 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings after 20 races one year ago.

He has scored six top-10 finishes in eight races at Indy. He started second and finished eighth in last year's Brickyard 400.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Robert Pressley welcomed new sponsor Square D to Bobby Hamilton Racing in style last week at Michigan by scoring his second victory of the season in the No. 18 Dodge Ram. The victory deadlocked Dodge with Chevrolet at 87 points five victories each after 13 of 23 NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series races in 2002. Ford is third with 73 points and three wins.

Pressley, who also won the season opener at Daytona, led 73 of 100 laps at Michigan and gained one spot in the driver standings. He moved to seventh and trails leader Mike Bliss by 95 points. Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Ram, ranks third in the standings, 53 points behind Bliss, while Ultra Motorsports teammate Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Ram, is sixth, 86 points behind the leader.

Meanwhile, Darrell Waltrip is helping his former NASCAR Winston Cup Series sponsor Tide celebrate its 15th year in NASCAR at IRP. His No. 17 Tide Dodge Ram will carry the same paint scheme Waltrip drove to victory lane at the 1989 Daytona 500.

"The trucks are big and driver-friendly, and the rules make for competitive racing," Waltrip said."Stevie, my wife, doesn't think the trucks go that fast. And that's what I want to keep her believing because the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series gives a guy like me the chance to get out and compete and have some fun."

NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series

Dean Skuza has taken advantage of NHRA's mid-summer Western marathon. With only five round victories heading into the mid-July Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car have reeled off two-consecutive, semifinal-round appearances and moved firmly into the top 10 in points for the first time this season.

"You can make or break your season on the Western swing," said Skuza, speaking of the three-straight West coast races consisting of Bandimere Speedway, Pacific Raceways just outside Seattle and this weekend's Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif."We're on our way back. We've had two pretty good outings in a row. But more importantly, we have run much more consistently since we put on this new, lighter Dodge Stratus R/T body. It's made all the difference in the world.

"As a team, none of us would be surprised if we take home a top-five points finish this year," Skuza noted."This team has been working extremely hard this year and they want to win just as badly as I do. We're still underachieving, but we are definitely headed in the right direction now."

Pennzoil World of Outlaws Mark Kinser drove his No. 5M Mopar-powered Maxim to a 12th-place finish Monday night at New Egypt Speedway in New Egypt, N.J.

Kinser, who suffered a blown engine during the qualifying session, started at the rear of the field and raced past nine cars in the first 17 laps.

P.J. Chesson started on the pole and led all 30 laps to take the A-feature victory. The Outlaws return to action tonight at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, and will race on Friday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Steve Kinser leads the Outlaw standings with 6,877 points after 45 races. Mark Kinser is fifth with 6,557 points.

Weekend Motorsports TV and Radio Schedule

* NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Friday, Aug. 2, 2002. 9 p.m. ESPN and MRN Radio at 8:30 p.m.

* NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400 Qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002. TNT, 11 a.m. eastern and IMS Radio at 11 a.m.

* NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour. Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Speedvision, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002. 4:30 p.m. eastern.

* Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002. 9-10 p.m. ESPN-2.

* Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Final Round on Sunday, Aug. 4. 7-10 p.m. ESPN-2.

* Brickyard 400 pre-race show. Sunday 2 p.m. eastern. NBC-TV and 1:30 p.m. IMS-Radio.

* Brickyard 400. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 2:30 p.m. eastern. NBC-TV and IMS-Radio.

* Brickyard 400 re-air on TNT, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2002 at 1 a.m. and also on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 8 at 1 a.m. on Speed Channel.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck , NHRA , World of Outlaws
Drivers Bill Elliott , Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Jason Leffler , Dean Skuza , Hank Parker Jr. , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Robert Pressley , Casey Atwood , Ted Musgrave , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Kinser , Steve Kinser , Mike Bliss , P.J. Chesson , Mark Martin