Dodge Ram Victory at Las Vegas Would Clinch NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Crown LAS VEGAS (Sept. 25, 2003) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram, wants to win...
Dodge Ram Victory at Las Vegas Would Clinch NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' Crown
LAS VEGAS (Sept. 25, 2003) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram, wants to win the drivers' championship for Dodge in 2003. Gaughan, who holds a 42-point advantage over Travis Kvapil with six races remaining, won't be able to wrap that one up Saturday in the Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he could rely on a little home cookin' to clinch the 2003 manufacturers' championship for Dodge.
Gaughan leads the circuit with four victories this season, and what would be more appropriate than for Gaughan to win in his hometown and wrap up the season-long manufacturers' championship for Dodge in the process? Five Dodge drivers have teamed to win 10 races this season and give Dodge a 23-point advantage over Ford and 24-point lead over Chevrolet heading into race No. 20 of 25 on Saturday. A win by any Dodge Ram driver at Las Vegas would give Dodge an insurmountable lead in the manufacturers' race with only five races remaining.
Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, won last week's race at California Speedway. The senior member of truck owner Jim Smith's Ultra Motorsports team has won three times in 2003 and holds third place in the standings, just 62 points behind Gaughan. Other Dodge Ram drivers who have contributed to the win column in 2003 are Jimmy Spencer and Jason Leffler in the No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge Ram owned by Smith, and Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram.
A Ram win at Vegas would give Dodge its second truck series manufacturers' title. Dodge won its first one in 2001. Dodge has yet to win a drivers' championship in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
NASCAR Winston Cup
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers will compete in the EA Sports 500 Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in the final restrictor-plate race of the season. Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid, will be going for his first superspeedway victory. The 25-year-old South Bend, Ind., driver is fresh off a come-from-behind victory last week at Dover to complete a sweep of the two races at the Monster Mile this season.
Newman has worked his way up to fifth in the series standings. He was seventh in the rankings as a rookie at the same stage of the 2002 campaign. Newman trails points leader Matt Kenseth by 580 points with eight races remaining in 2003, but he's within 144 points of second-place Kevin Harvick, 107 points of third-place Jimmie Johnson and 90 points of fourth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
With wins at Chicago, Pocono, Michigan, Richmond, Texas and twice at Dover, Newman would like nothing better than to add a Talladega victory to his already impressive racing resume. He has one top-10 finish in three starts at the 2.66-mile track, a seventh in this race last season. He failed to finish in his other two starts at Talladega.
Newman also leads the circuit with seven poles in 2003, but Jeremy Mayfield, who has finished second to Newman in two of the past three races, will be going for his second pole of the season at Talladega when time trials begin Friday. Mayfield, driver of car owner Ray Evernham's No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid, has recorded top-10 finishes in four of the last five races. He hasn't finished lower than 11th in those five events, and the 34-year-old Owensboro, Ky., native ranks 22nd in the series standings, up seven spots in the past five races.
Mayfield has three career poles to his credit at Talladega. Evernham Motorsports teammate Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid, leads all drivers with eight poles at the 2.66-mile track. In 53 starts at Talladega, Elliott has 22 top-10 finishes.
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series
Whit Bazemore's Memphis-winning pinstriped Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus body will be replaced by the "Animal House" 25th Anniversary Matco Tools body for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals this weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
Bazemore is fresh off his own Toga party after taking the Funny Car points lead for the first time in his career last weekend. Bazemore has three career victories at Route 66 Raceway, and with five races remaining in 2003, he leads Tony Pedregon by seven points in the season-long standings. Bazemore holds a 176-point advantage over John Force.
"The pressure's not off, but I think we can enjoy what we're doing a little bit more," Bazemore said. "That will make it easier. Naturally, we're going to have more confidence in ourselves and in our ability because of what we've accomplished this year.
"Leading the points should make us stronger as a team and it gives everyone a taste and it tastes good, so we want more. I think it's going to help us, not hurt us."
Route 66 Raceway is also the site where, earlier this year, Don Schumacher Racing scored its first double win, which was repeated last weekend in Memphis. Tony Schumacher won the Top Fuel race in his U.S. Army dragster and Bazemore won in Funny Car competition. Each driver won his third race of the season in Memphis.
O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series
Series points leader Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski, driver of the No. 20 J.D. Byrider Mopar-powered Eagle, will resume their Outlaw duel in Alabama this weekend.
The Outlaws will race in Phenix City, Ala., on Friday night and close the weekend at the Talladega Short Track on Saturday.
Kinser holds a 58-point lead over Lasoski with the season winding down.