MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 21, 1998) It was one of those days where Ted Musgrave, driver of the PRIMESTAR Ford Taurus, didn't have to say a whole lot during the race. An occasional "Don't touch the car" was about all crew chief ...
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 21, 1998)
It was one of those days where Ted Musgrave, driver of the PRIMESTAR Ford Taurus, didn't have to say a whole lot during the race.
An occasional "Don't touch the car" was about all crew chief James Ince heard from Musgrave as he rolled to his best finish of the season. Musgrave grabbed the second spot in Monday's rain-delayed Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Bud Pole winner Bobby Hamilton dominated the event en route to his first triumph in the Kodak Chevrolet in just his eighth race with Morgan-McClure Motorsports. For most of the race, Hamilton was joined in the untouchable category by John Andretti in Hamilton's former ride, the STP Pontiac, but a major miscalculation in mileage had Andretti out of gas with six laps to go. That dropped Andretti from the second spot to 18th.
Dale Jarrett very quietly made his way to the third spot from the backstretch pits. Dale Earnhardt earned a much-needed fourth and Randy LaJoie, subbing for Ricky Craven in the Budweiser Chevy, survived several scrapes to finish fifth in his first race on the .526-mile oval.
Since setting the Bud Pole Qualifying record at Martinsville in the fall of 1994, Musgrave's starting positions have been less than stellar - only once since claiming then has Musgrave even earned a frontstretch pit. So when Musgrave put the PRIMESTAR Taurus in the 12th spot on Friday, it felt like winning the Bud Pole.
"You want to get a frontstretch pit, which we did," Musgrave said. "Qualifying has always been a little tough on me here, although I hold the track record. That's kind of unusual."
However, racing well on the flat short track has not been a problem for him. Heading into Monday's race, Musgrave had four straight top-10 finishes in the spring event here.
It didn't take long for Musgrave to make his way into the top-10, which is where he stayed all afternoon. Fourteen cautions slowed the race, which kept bunching the field and gave Musgrave some trouble getting through traffic. But while Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon and Jeremy Mayfield experimented with two-tire stops throughout the day, Ince knew that was not the way to go.
"I've been watching and that just isn't the deal at all," Ince radioed to Musgrave.
It certainly isn't when your pit crew can give you 16 and 17-second stops all day, which is exactly what the PRIMESTAR Racing crew did.
"Hats off to the guys in the pits," Musgrave said. "We had some really good pit stops to keep me up there because track position meant a lot.
"We were really good, but we weren't as good as the 4 car or the 43 car. I don't know what kind of changes I could do to catch them.
"When the car works good, it's really fun. When you've got a handful out there, then it's a long day, but the car was great all day, really all weekend."
Wallace's sixth-place finish preserved his Winston Cup Points lead - 33 points over teammate Mayfield. Terry Labonte is third followed by Gordon and Jarrett. Mark Martin had some troubles in the race and his 29th-place finish dropped him to sixth in the points. Musgrave gained one spot to 15th and is just 36 points behind teammate Jeff Burton in 10th.
Source: NASCAR Online