Dover: Tim Kohuth - NASCAR spotlight

Tim Kohuth, Ultra Motorsports combination to beat in NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition on concrete. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 28, 2002) - To win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway, a team must outwit ...

Tim Kohuth, Ultra Motorsports combination to beat in NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition on concrete.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 28, 2002) - To win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway, a team must outwit Ultra Motorsports crew chief Tim Kohuth.

It's cast in concrete, if you will.

Kohuth, in the minority among his peers, can't wait to visit the Monster Mile or the similarly surfaced Nashville Superspeedway. Success, after all, is a great motivator.

The 41-year-old Kohuth, a Pennsylvania native, won his first NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division race - with Ken Schrader - at Dover in 1989. That was before the 1-mile superspeedway's asphalt surface was torn out and replaced with concrete.

When NASCAR Craftsman Trucks debuted in September 2000, Kohuth's then-driver, Mike Wallace, led 168 laps and was battling Kurt Busch for the victory before being involved in a Turn 4 accident two laps shy of the scheduled race distance.

The Ultra team swallowed that disappointment and returned to Dover International Speedway with a vengeance. Scott Riggs didn't dominate in Wallace fashion but, with a neat pass of Jack Sprague, scored his second victory of the year. Riggs and Kohuth weren't done. In August, the pair ran the table at Nashville where Riggs led the final 48 laps at the 1.5-mile venue.

Obviously, the No. 2 Team ASE Racing/Carquest Dodge has to rate an at least even-money favorite when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to Dover for Friday's MBNA America 200 (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. EDT). Riggs has graduated to the NASCAR Busch Series - where he backed up his Nashville victory in April - but having a third different driver in as many seasons shouldn't hurt Ultra's chances.

Jason Leffler, after all, is on a bit of a roll, having finished second in successive races at Gateway International Raceway and Pikes Peak International Raceway. Leffler, who has competed at Dover in both NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series cars, is no stranger to the track's quirks.

"I watched the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Dover in person last year, so I know how good the truck ran," said Leffler, winner of series Bud Poles in 2002 at Darlington Raceway and Pikes Peak."I like Dover because it's fast and you're really hauling the mail down into those big, banked corners.

"There are two grooves so it makes for some good, side-by-side racing. It's definitely going to be exciting."

Dover also provides the opportunity for Ultra, Leffler and Kohuth to build on something of a comeback. Riggs, who led the championship through much of 2001, fell to fifth following a 32nd-place finish in the season finale. This year didn't start much better: an 11th-place finish at Daytona and 30th at Darlington, the latter run sabotaged by a broken oil line as Leffler ran a close third with the checkered flag in sight.

Leffler, however, has rebounded from 17th to fourth in points, thanks to a trio of top-six efforts. He's a slim, 31 points behind leader Mike Bliss.

Kohuth would seem the essential ingredient - especially at Dover.

"I like racing on concrete, although some people hate it," said the crew chief."It's just a neat place because the track doesn't change. It stays the same.

"If you take the variable of the track changing out of the equation, it makes it a little more fun. It's one less thank that I don't have to worry about."

Having the right driver, also, has taken another crucial variable out of the equation. Schrader excelled at Dover, winning in both NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch cars. Wallace loves concrete. Riggs' record over the past 12 months - he also scored a top-10 finish in this spring's race at Bristol Motor Speedway - suggests a similar affinity for the surface.

That would leave Kohuth, a perfectionist with nine victories on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, to work some mechanical magic. Bottom line: there isn't anything for Kohuth to dislike about Dover.

"On my end, a lot of it is if you like where you're going... the mindset seems to make everything run that much smoother. I'm very familiar with Dover, just because it seems like I've raced there forever from my days in NASCAR Winston Cup and the NASCAR Busch Series," Kohuth said."Dover is a cool race track."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jason Leffler , Ken Schrader , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Jack Sprague , Scott Riggs , Mike Bliss