MUSGRAVE TO DRIVE NO. 60 POWER TEAM MONTE CARLO AT ROCKINGHAM -- Ted Musgrave, a 44-year-old NASCAR Winston Cup veteran who lives in Troutman, N.C., will drive for injured Geoffrey Bodine in Sunday's Dura Lube/Kmart 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race...
MUSGRAVE TO DRIVE NO. 60 POWER TEAM MONTE CARLO AT ROCKINGHAM -- Ted Musgrave, a 44-year-old NASCAR Winston Cup veteran who lives in Troutman, N.C., will drive for injured Geoffrey Bodine in Sunday's Dura Lube/Kmart 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. Bodine, 50, was injured in last Friday's Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman truck race at Daytona International Speedway. He flew home to North Carolina on Tuesday from Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. He is scheduled to undergo surgery on his wrist on Sunday, and he's wearing a brace for a fractured 12th vertebrae. Bodine, the 1986 Daytona 500 winner, did not qualify for last Sunday's 42nd annual Daytona 500. Car owner Joe Bessey and crew chief Jim Long decided to put Musgrave in the No. 60 Power Team Monte Carlo on a race-to-race basis until doctors give Bodine the OK to resume driving. Musgrave has 280 NASCAR Winston Cup starts to his credit and has recorded four second-place finishes. He competed in 32 races for Butch Mock in 1999 and drove for six different car owners in 1998. Musgrave recorded a career-best seventh-place finish in the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup standings, his second season behind the wheel for car owner Jack Roush.
"It's just like riding a bicycle," Musgrave said. "You stand in the gas and if everything is working right you go to the front. I've been doing some testing and R&D for the PPI Motorsports team (assisting NASCAR Winston Cup rookie Scott Pruett). I had some things working this year, but they fell through and I decided to wait until next year to pursue a full-time ride. I'm not sure how long I'll be driving for Geoffrey, I guess it depends on the doctors. With his back injury, it may take awhile.
"Joe Bessey (car owner) and Jim Long (crew chief) sat down and decided to give me a chance to drive the car. I'm going to help out as much as I can and try to get this team going while Geoffrey recuperates. I look back two years ago and I did the same deal. It seemed like whoever needed help would call me. I subbed for Jimmy Spencer and Robert Pressley, and I got Bud Moore's team in the field at Michigan. Then I drove the First Plus car for Bill Elliott the last six races of the season and just about won at Phoenix. We were chasing down Rusty Wallace and it rained out the rest of the race.
"Some people might think I'm a little rusty since I haven't driven in awhile, but it's only the second race of the season and the other drivers have just been testing during the offseason. I've been doing that, too. The way I look at it, I haven't been sitting around any more than anyone else.
"This won't be my first time in a Chevrolet. I drove a race for Buz McCall in 1988 in his Monte Carlo, and I even drove Luminas when I drove for D.K. Ulrich. I'm one of those drivers who has never won a race, but I've been real close a few times. I finished second at Martinsville twice. I finished second to Bobby Hamilton there in 1998, and I finished second to Rusty Wallace there one time. I finished second to Dale Jarrett at Darlington, and I think I finished second to Terry Labonte at Pocono. I've got a bunch of top-five finishes, and I know my way around the track.
"I was spotting for Scott Pruett at Daytona, and I was approached there on Saturday after Happy Hour to drive the Power Team Chevy. My top priority is to do the best I can with the car. I'd like to win the pole and win the race. That's what everyone would like to do. Realistically, I'd like to qualify in the first round and get this team going in the points. If you need to rely on a provisional to get in the race, the owner points are really important. This is a good race team. I hated to see them miss the first race, but I'm going to try to help them claw their way back to the top. When Geoffrey is ready to get back in the car, I'll step out. Until then, it's the doctors' call.
"I was more or less ready to write off this season and just test. I had an opportunity to drive for some teams, but they weren't teams that appealed to me. So I turned them down. I've already been there and done that. I know this group of people here, and they've got some decent cars. I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to race in the top 10 again.
"I'll just go to Rockingham cold turkey, and that's the way I want it. We won't have time to test. I've been racing for 26 years, and it would be nice to have a chance to test the car, but if you haven't got it figured out by now you're not going to get it figured out. I haven't had the greatest results at Rockingham, but I do like racing there. It's not been one of my stellar tracks, but it could be different with a good team like this. Jim Long worked with Kyle Petty when he was winning at Rockingham, so he might have some tricks up his sleeve.
"I tried to get Jim to come over to be the crew chief of the 75 car last year. I've known him a long time and we respect each other. I guess I live about 15 miles from the shop, and I went over yesterday to get fitted in the seat. My arms and legs are long, and my body structure is so different from Geoffrey's that I put my own seat in the car. His seat wouldn't quite adjust to my body.
"We're looking for a good weekend at Rockingham. If we can qualify in the first round, that would be a big first step. I wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a top 15 finish. I don't see why we can't do that. If we can get a good start and then move up a little higher the next week I think we can keep moving up that ladder. Maybe we can get up to a decent spot in the points by the time Geoffrey gets well enough to drive again. He was in a pretty scary-looking crash in that truck race, and he came out of it in pretty good shape. I'm sure he'll be wanting to get back in the car as soon as possible, and I'm just going to do the best job I can for him until he can get back in the saddle."