Colorado Springs: Dodge Motorsports preview

Dodge Rams to continue NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series climb in milestone race at Pikes Peak. FOUNTAIN, Colo. (May 15, 2002) - This weekend's Rocky Mountain 200 Presented by Dodge will be a milestone race, marking the 175th event in NASCAR...

Dodge Rams to continue NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series climb in milestone race at Pikes Peak.

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (May 15, 2002) - This weekend's Rocky Mountain 200 Presented by Dodge will be a milestone race, marking the 175th event in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. Dodge has entered every race, tallying 31 wins and 43 poles - more than half of which were earned within the past two years.

Only one team, the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram entry owned by Marlene Smith of Ultra Motorsports, has started every NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Current driver, Jason Leffler, finished second at Gateway International Raceway and looks forward to giving the team something else to celebrate this weekend. Leffler won a USAC National Midget race at Pikes Peak in 1998 and finished second there the following season.

"Anytime you have a lot of laps on a particular racetrack, especially one that's as unique as Pikes Peak, you're able to take some of that information back and use it to your advantage," Leffler said. "Even though I'll race the track a lot different than I did in the open-wheel car - just because of the big weight difference - it still helps to have run there in the past. With my experience in the Busch car at Pikes Peak, I should have a pretty good feel for what it's going to take to go fast in a heavier vehicle."

Of Dodge's primary drivers, Carlos Contreras of the No. 43 Hot Wheels Dodge Ram has enjoyed the longest tenure with Dodge in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Mexico City-born driver out of the Petty Enterprises stables will make his 49th career start in a Dodge Ram this weekend. He says he can regain his season-high fifth-place ranking in the points standings by running well this Sunday at Pikes Peak, and not necessarily worrying about his qualifying spot.

"Qualifying and racing are totally different at Pikes Peak," Contreras said. "We need to find a setup that is good for the 200 laps - not one lap. In qualifying, if we can start in the top-15 that is okay with me. You can pass pretty easy at this track. It's a very smooth track."

Milestone Luck?

Dodge hopes its success in recent milestone races can continue in the 175th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race this weekend at Pikes Peak. Dodge has earned victories in the series' 150th race (Scott Riggs at Martinsville, 4/7/01) and 125th race (Joe Ruttman at Phoenix, 3/18/00).


* In last year's Jelly Belly 200 Presented by Dodge, Joe Ruttman earned Dodge's first win at Pikes Peak. Though Dodge has earned a top five finish in all four Pikes Peak races, the 1-2-4 finishes of Dodge Rams last year were the manufacturer's top finishes ever at the track.

* The No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram set the Pikes Peak race-speed record last year with Joe Ruttman piloting for the win (111.004 mph, 1 hr. 50 min. 16 sec.). Robert Pressley will race the same Bobby Hamilton-owned Dodge Ram, nicknamed"Angel," in Sunday's race.

* No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram driver Bill Lester has been the top-qualifying Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in three out of four races this year. No. 62 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Ram driver Brendan Gaughan has bee the top-finishing rookie twice. Both drivers have started in all four races this year.

* The Dodge teams of Ultra Motorsports have an average qualifying position of 2.5, and have yet to qualify outside of the top-five this year. Ted Musgrave and Jason Leffler have both earned at least one pole, and have led laps in all four races of the 2002 season.

* The 1-2-3-4 finish of Dodge Rams in February's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 was the first time Dodge had swept the top four spots of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

Dodge has the lead in...

* Manufacturer's Championship Standings (Dodge - 28 points, Chevy - 26, Ford - 23)

* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Brendan Gaughan 44 pts, Lester 3rd -32 points, Rodney Sawyers 5th - 18 points, Angie Wilson 7th - 13 points, Donnie Neuenberger 8th - eight points,)

* 363 out of 657 laps on the year (55.3%)

After four races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
* Two wins
* Three poles
* Seven top-fives
* 12 top-10s
* $720,000+ in winnings


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Carlos Contreras , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Angie Wilson , Donnie Neuenberger