Homestead: Dodge pre-race quotes

BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager of NASCAR Operations - Dodge Motorsports) "Speaking on behalf of the Dodge Motorsports group, we're extremely proud that Brendan Gaughan has broken the ice and become the first Dodge Raybestos Rookie of the Year in...

BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager of NASCAR Operations - Dodge Motorsports)

"Speaking on behalf of the Dodge Motorsports group, we're extremely proud that Brendan Gaughan has broken the ice and become the first Dodge Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I've had the great pleasure of working with Brendan and his family over the years, and it's been exciting to watch his steady progression as he has grown into a successful driver. We're confident that he has great things in store for us in the future.

"In addition to being very proud of Brendan and his Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, we sure are hopeful that we'll have the chance to make good on our promise to give away two Dodge Vipers to the team owner and driver if Ted Musgrave can pull off a drivers championship this weekend for Dodge."

TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram)

"We're taking the same mindset into this race as what we had in the last month or two or whatever. It's just another race, and at the end of the year we add up all the points. But it isn't over with yet. We'll take chances if we have to. I've got nothing to lose, so we'll take some chances and gamble if we have to. We'll do whatever it takes, but the number one goal is still to try and win the race. We've got to throw caution to the wind. Mike (Bliss) can take it easy a little bit. But Rick and I can't, we've got to run as hard as we can to get as many points as possible. That's the only thing we are forced into doing. My mindset is just the same way as it's always been. We need to lead as many laps as we can and try to win the race."

"Years ago when I first started out I could've won the championship at Waukegan Speedway, but I elected at the end of the year to go out and venture off into a different states and run the big races that they have at the end of the year. I didn't go for the championship at my hometown track. I thought it was better to get educated by going out into different states and see how I stacked up against all of the other people. People say, 'Looking back, would you have rather stayed home and won the championship.' But I don't think that would've made me any better of a racecar driver. I think I did the best thing by going out to Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio and racing against the best.

"No, I never came down to a last race deal like this, and it's really phenomenal to have three teams right here at the very last race going for the championship. We've seen that the Busch Grand National championship is already settled, and the Winston Cup is pretty much done. But the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series could really get down to the nitty-gritty here in the last race. It's kind of unique to see how these three teams have performed throughout the year. I think it's pretty cool.

"I don't think the racing should change this week. I think we saw last week at Phoenix that it hasn't changed, and I don't think anybody should change. Everybody should keep racing the way they are. They shouldn't see Rick coming along and just move out of his way. Don't move out of our way, just keep racing like we have been. That's what racing is all about. If you're going to bump somebody though, just hit Rick and Mike harder, that's all."

BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 62 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Ram)

NOTE: Gaughan is on the verge of clinching the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year award for Dodge in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"We had a good year. We came in with a lot of experience for a rookie program. NAPA Auto Parts is a well-known sponsor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and we brought them back to the circuit this year. The Orleans Racing team has done a lot of truck races in the last couple of years. We thought we were pretty experienced to begin with. We had a lot of confidence going into the year. We really wanted to be a little higher up in the overall points at the end of the year. But I think I had higher expectations than most people. So far we're only missing one goal that we wrote down at the beginning of the year, and that's to finish in the top-10 at the year's end. Right now we're 11th. We've won some races at a place that nobody expected us to. We've run well at racetracks that we've never been to. We ran well at Dover and Darlington, which are very difficult places to drive. I had never even seen them. We've joked all year that we've had better runs this year at places we've never been to than places that we had seen before. It was really a lot fun.

"I've got a personal bet with Dodge Motorsports that I've got to win, and that was to win three races this year. So, I'm going there to win the damn thing tomorrow. Bo Puffer told me that Dodge Motorsports would give my entire team Dodge leather jackets if we win three races this year. They gave me one for winning a race, and I was very honored to have that. They also gave my father one for winning a race, which was a very big honor because they're really nice jackets. My team has always taken care of me, and my goal is to always take care of them. So I made a bet with Mr. Bo Puffer that we'd win three races this year. We let a few go, but if I win one more he's going to have to ante up 18 leather jackets.

"Bill Lester, if he keeps qualifying up in front like that, he's embarrassing me. He's making me look like a moron in qualifying. My god, he's pulling stuff that's just unbelievable. He's had a pretty good season. I think they've got a gem over in the Bobby Hamilton stables next year. He's going to win, and he's a hell of a driver.

"At the beginning of the season some people were saying that the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is dead, that the competition is down. But we're looking at a Ford, Chevy and Dodge driver in the top-three in points right now. Two of them are former Winston Cup drivers, and a guy who has been in the Truck Series since 1995. I think the competition this year was probably tougher than it has been in years past. We've got three guys here that are having the best points battle in all of NASCAR this year. I think this has been one awesome year for the Craftsman Trucks.

"The Raybestos Rookie of the Year award is nice piece of hardware to take home. In 1999, I was 15th in the Winston West Series points and I lost the rookie of the year award. But, I came back the next two years and won the championship. This award is a nice thing to win. It helps out with a young team. It helps us get some exposure in the media, and helps us get our name out there. But being 11th in points, no offense, is kind of embarrassing. I'm going to come back next year. We're not going to have NAPA Auto Parts as a sponsor, but we're still looking. We'll find something though, and I always have pretty good sophomore years, so I'm hoping to overcome our rookie year jinx.

-dodge-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ted Musgrave , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan