Musgrave set to part with Roush Racing by Dave Rodman SONOMA, Calif. (June 28, 1998) Roush Racing President Geoff Smith confirmed Sunday morning at Sears Point Raceway that driver Ted Musgrave, pilot of Roush's No. 16 PRIMESTAR Ford, would...
Musgrave set to part with Roush Racing by Dave Rodman
SONOMA, Calif. (June 28, 1998) Roush Racing President Geoff Smith confirmed Sunday morning at Sears Point Raceway that driver Ted Musgrave, pilot of Roush's No. 16 PRIMESTAR Ford, would more than likely not drive the car through the end of the 1998 season.
"The statement I want to make perfectly clear," Smith said in the garage area some 90 minutes before the Save Mart/Kragen 350, "is that Ted Musgrave is a great race car driver, a great human being and that there is no better sponsor representative in this garage area.
"For five years, Jack Roush, Ted, Steve Hmiel, James Ince and the entire organization have been working hard trying to find the combination that would enable Ted to break through and win. We have changed everything we can change except the driver.
"We owe it to the organization and the sponsor to make a change in the seat."
Smith said the driver change would be made "as soon as Ted Musgrave can get his future plans in order. It's not going to happen tomorrow or at the next race, we don't think. We anticipate it being done before the end of this season."
Within the last several weeks, Roush Racing, which owns the NASCAR Winston Cup Series operations for drivers Mark Martin (No. 6), Musgrave (No. 16), Johnny Benson (No. 26), Chad Little (No. 97) and Jeff Burton (No. 99), announced an alliance with the Wood Brothers Racing Team.
Speculation has been that the Woods, based in Stuart, Va., will have a second car in 1999 to partner current driver Michael Waltrip's No. 21 Citgo Ford. Roush has had a "driver development contract" with NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division point leader Matt Kenseth and on Friday announced it had also signed a letter of intent with driver Kevin Lepage.
Lepage said on Friday he could be in a Roush car "as soon as they are ready for me." Lepage is apparently a "free agent," effective Saturday when he left the LJ Racing team when team owner Joe Falk replaced Lepage, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, with road racing ace Tom Kendall.
Musgrave, a 42-year-old native of Evanston, Ill., is in his fifth season driving for Roush. In 141 starts, including Sunday's Save Mart/Kragen 350, his best finish has been second four times, including a runner-up finish in the Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He has 232 career starts in nine seasons, with 19 top-fives and 54 top-10 finishes.
However, this season, he had one top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first 15 races. Although he had won at least one Bud Pole for three straight years prior to 1997, his best qualifying position this season was eighth in the Pocono 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Coming into Sears Point he was 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings with $694,376 in money winnings.
"I know Ted Musgrave is a guy who could make a major difference for one of these other programs in the garage area that might be struggling," Smith said. "He's a solid, top-five winning driver and he has a real in-depth knowledge of the Roush organization and all the variables involved with that to really help a team when he does make a change.
"When that happens depends on the deal that Ted is able to make and whatever business requirements our sponsor has. We want to insure that the 16 team is in the best possible shape it can be for the rest of the year.
"We're also trying to help Ted land on his feet. This was a tough decision because he's a quality individual. We hope a change in chemistry will help all of us, but it was just time to make a change."
Smith said the organization had a couple contingency plans that might keep Musgrave within the team structure, but right now "I'm telling him to do the right thing for Ted Musgrave -- don't wait for us.
"We want Ted to be able to let everyone know he's out in the market while there might be rides available. If any car owner in this garage wants to ask an opinion of any of the other drivers or of Jack Roush, about whether Ted can be a help to their program, I'm sure to a person they would give a wholehearted endorsement not only of his talent but that he's a wonderful person."
Source: NASCAR Online