Fort Worth: Dodge Motorsports preview

Dodge Rams expect to pick up speed in Texas night race. FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 4, 2002) -The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will visit the second-fastest track on its circuit Friday night in the O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, a visit...

Dodge Rams expect to pick up speed in Texas night race.

FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 4, 2002) -The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will visit the second-fastest track on its circuit Friday night in the O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, a visit that should bode well for the Dodge Rams of Dodge Motorsports who have already gotten off to a quick start in the 2002 season.

Fast has been the only word to describe the Dodge Rams of Ultra Motorsports, who have an average qualifying position of 2.3 coming into Texas, and have yet to qualify outside of the top-five in 2002. Ted Musgrave and Jason Leffler have each earned two poles, and both have led laps in all five races of the 2002 season. Musgrave is coming off his second win of the season - third for Dodge - and will be driving the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram that earned Dodge's lone NASCAR Craftsman Truck victory at Texas in 1999.

"Texas is definitely about who has the most horsepower, downforce and who has the ingenuity to get through the air better than the next guy," Musgrave said."You really have to depend on what the team puts underneath the truck. A lot of guys will say that they are holding it wide open and aren't able to run that fast, but that's when you need to take a look at other areas of the truck and figure out why you aren't running as fast as you need too."

Ultra teammate Leffler will drive the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram that started first in both Texas races last year, setting the track's qualifying record at 181.953 mph. (29.678 sec.) in October. Lately, Leffler has been setting a quick pace for himself in his first season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Long Beach, Calif., native has had the fastest Dodge in three of the past four races and is looking to make his break-through first series win under the lights at Texas this Friday.

"Patience is going to be huge," Leffler said. "You're going so fast that it's very important to take your time when and use your head when you go to make a pass or come up on lapped traffic. It's the kind of track where you have to stay focused and pick the other drivers off one at a time, because if you crash it's going to be big."

The Dodge Rams out of the Bobby Hamilton Racing stables are also gathering speed after strong finishes at Dover. Robert Pressley showed the type of performance that made him the series point leader this season with a runner-up finish at the Monster Mile in his No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram. Rookie teammate Bill Lester, in the No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Ram, turned in his second consecutive career-best finish by placing 12th last weekend.

"Man, we just keep improving," Lester said."I know a top ten finish is just around the corner. Every week the guys give me a great truck, and turn in some great pit stops. Everything went great last week, and we had a solid finish, but we still have to get a top ten. That's our new goal for the season. We started the year trying to finish races, now we are trying to finish them in the top ten. Once we do that, then we'll try for top fives. It's about taking little steps at a time. That's how a team grows into a contender."


* Brendan Gaughan was the top-finishing Dodge Ram in last year's O'Reilly 400, taking a career-high second place finish in his No. 61 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Ram. Gaughan extended his lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings to nine points last weekend, earning his second top-10 of the year - a seventh place finish at Dover.

* Carlos Contreras, driver of the No. 43 Hot Wheels Dodge Ram, will celebrate his 32nd birthday this Saturday, June 8.

* No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram driver Bill Lester has been the top-qualifying Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in four races this year. Brendan Gaughan was the top-finishing rookie for the third time this year with his top-10 at Dover last weekend. Both drivers have started in all six races of 2002.

Dodge has the lead in:

* Manufacturer's Championship Standings (Dodge- 43 points, Chevy - 38, Ford - 33)

* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Brendan Gaughan 65 pts, Lester 3rd -52 points, Rodney Sawyers 5th - 34 points, Angie Wilson 6th - 26 points)

* 635 out of 1057 laps on the year (60.1%)

After six races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
* Three wins
* Four poles
* 10 top-fives
* 18 top-10s
* $1.09 million in winnings


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Carlos Contreras , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Angie Wilson