Gateway race report

MADISON, Ill. - Ted Musgrave came as close to being perfect as possible Sunday, giving up the lead only to pit and allow his Ultra Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs to collect bonus points, in winning for the third time on the NASCAR Craftsman...

MADISON, Ill. - Ted Musgrave came as close to being perfect as possible Sunday, giving up the lead only to pit and allow his Ultra Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs to collect bonus points, in winning for the third time on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Musgrave wound up heading 140 of the 160 laps of the Ram Tough 200 by Pepsi at Gateway International Raceway. His Mopar Performance Dodge Ram pickup bested Riggs by 10.428 seconds - nearly a third of a lap - at the conclusion of the 200-mile event over the 1.25-mile superspeedway.

The winner, who averaged a near record pace of 112.237 mph, collected $48,310 plus a Craftsman-posted bonus of $10,000 for winning from the pole position. Musgrave, 45, previously won at Homestead, Fla. and Bakersfield, Calif.

A day earlier, after winning the Bud Pole, expressed displeasure with a new NASCAR aero ruling that increased the Dodge's front ground clearance and pared two inches from the width of the truck's rear spoiler. He relented a bit after his victory.

"I don't think it's as much the rules or the equipment as much as it's a great team," said Musgrave. "NASCAR can do everything it wants to but right now this is a super strong, super motivated team. They work very hard to give the best strategy and equipment under me.

"It's a great situation."

Team owner Smith had offered some motivation of his own before the event, offering his drivers new, Harley-Davidson motorcycles for a one-two finish. They responded and Smith was happy to make good on his offer.

"This is a challenging track, so you expect Ted to do well - but the kid (Riggs) was right behind him. What can you say?" he observed.

Musgrave and defending Ram Tough 200 champion Jack Sprague swapped the lead four times during the event's first 79 laps and appeared headed for a final showdown when the engine in Sprague's NetZero Platinum Chevrolet faltered on the 126th lap. Sprague finished eighth, a lap off the pace.

Riggs, one of six drivers who traded the lead 11 times, posted his fifth top five finish of the year. The North Carolina native retained the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point lead by an 850 to 775 margin over Joe Ruttman, who also suffered engine trouble en route to a 12th-place finish.

Terry Cook, the No. 2 starter, drove his K Automotive Ford F-150 to a third-place finish - his second in the past two events. Rick Crawford was fourth in the Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford, followed by the CAT Rental Store Chevrolet Silverado of Raybestos Rookie Travis Kvapil.

Ricky Hendrick took sixth, the final driver to complete all 160 laps. Seventh through 10th were Matt Crafton, Sprague, Setzer and Billy Bigley.

The race was delayed three hours four minutes by an afternoon shower that forced ESPN to tape what had been a 'live' telecast.

There were just three cautions - consuming 13 laps - the last coming on the 82nd lap.

The dearth of caution forced teams to make green flag stops with some 25 laps remaining. One of the final drivers to pit, Setzer, hoped for a yellow flag that never appeared. When he dove down pit road on lap 134, Musgrave regained the front spot and a nine-second advantage over Riggs.

Behind, however, Randy Tolsma, Kvapil, Cook and Crawford ran in tight formation, contending for the No. 3 position. Tolsma and Cook bounced Kvapil to fifth-place on lap 145 with Crawford also gaining a spot on the following serial. Tolsma, however, was forced to make a second stop on lap 152 to replace right side tires, dropping the Team Rensi Chevrolet to 11th-place.

Cook then drove away from Crawford and Kvapil but was some seven seconds behind Riggs when the checkered flag flew.

"We could pretty much run anybody down," Cook said, "but once we got to them, we had a hard time passing. I think I could have handled Scott if I (had) got to him but we lost track position when we ran out of fuel (and pitted on lap 121) and that hurt us."

He added, speaking for everyone in the field, "I don't think I had anything for the (No.) 1 (Musgrave).

Next up for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a May 12, Mother's Day weekend visit to historic Darlington Raceway for the Darlington 200.

-Owen Kearns

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ted Musgrave , Ricky Hendrick , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Scott Riggs , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Billy Bigley , Randy Tolsma , Travis Kvapil