Lowe's repeat victory would ease tension for Musgrave, Ultra Motorsports DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2004) -- Over the course of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, driver and team are sure to experience the best and worst of times. Ted...
Lowe's repeat victory would ease tension for Musgrave, Ultra Motorsports
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2004) -- Over the course of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, driver and team are sure to experience the best and worst of times.
Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) and his Ultra Motorsports crew are hoping the best is yet to come -- starting this week at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Infineon 200, a race they won in 2003.
Certainly, the 2004 season through four races has been the worst, perhaps in the nine-plus years that Ultra has competed for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title. Musgrave, uncharacteristically 12th in the points standings after finishing second and third, respectively, in 2002 and '03, counts only a single top-10 finish this year.
Musgrave's teammate, Andy Houston, hasn't done much better in the No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge. Houston's best effort is 11th.
For Musgrave this could be -- should be -- the week the season turns around. The 48-year-old veteran is the defending winner of the Infineon 200. Perhaps equally important, 10 of Musgrave's 13 series victories have come on tracks of one mile or longer, ranking the Franklin, Wis., veteran fourth overall in superspeedway wins.
On a positive note that denotes progress, Musgrave led 59 laps of the May 16 event at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway before pit strategy consigned the team to a 13th place finish.
"What we need is time," said Musgrave, whose Shawn Parker-led crew is comprised mostly of newcomers in 2004. "Any time you start the season with new people, like we have, it takes awhile to get everyone acclimated and get into a rhythm. We've been testing to help make improvements and we feel we're starting to turn the corner."
Having a "home game" so to speak -- Ultra and most of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams are located in the Charlotte area -- and a win at the track will bring Musgrave to the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway with a smile on his face.
"It was the highlight of our year," he said of last season's victory. "When you race in Charlotte, it's a really neat deal. Everyone is in town -- all the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams -- and the fans that come down for the event really add to the atmosphere."
Musgrave and Houston face another kind of pressure as the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series campaign shifts into high gear with the second of nine races over a 10-week stretch. At stake, in addition to Ultra's first series championship, is a nine-season streak in which one or both teams has won a race. Ultra, owned by series pioneer Jim Smith, ranks No. 2 with 30 victories.
"We'll definitely win races this season, maybe not at the beginning of the season but we'll win our share," said Musgrave, who last won at California Speedway in September 2003. "It would be kind of neat if we can pull off back-to-back wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"Another win would ease the tension we're under and it would absolutely boost the morale in the shop. Everyone wants to win races and if we can win Charlotte, we'll be well on the way to winning some more."