Homestead: Mopar preview

Musgrave looks ahead to Miami, possible championship for Mopar Ted Musgrave and his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team hope to make history Friday at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The Mopar team from Ultra Motorsports looks to erase a 26 point...

Musgrave looks ahead to Miami, possible championship for Mopar

Ted Musgrave and his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team hope to make history Friday at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The Mopar team from Ultra Motorsports looks to erase a 26 point deficit and earn their first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. A Musgrave title would also be the first NCTS driver's crown for Dodge, which clinched the 2003 manufacturer championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.

Musgrave has a very strong record at Homestead. He won the season finale there in 2001, his first year with Ultra Motorsports, and he and the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team finished second at Homestead in 2002. The whole Ultra team has racked up consistently impressive finishes at Homestead with drivers like Mike Bliss, Mike Wallace, and Jason Leffler: two victories, three seconds, one third and one fourth-place finish. In addition, Musgrave's teammate Andy Houston won at Homestead in 2000 while driving for another team.

The No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram team hopes to continue its strong showings at Homestead. They also look to build on the most recent series event at Phoenix International Raceway, where Musgrave set the track record while qualifying, earned the pole position, and finished the race second.

"Last weekend was our typical type of race: very solid," Musgrave said. "We were right back in form, and we hope to bring that into Homestead. If everything goes right Friday, we'll be the champions. It will be an upset, but it'll be really good for this Mopar team."

Musgrave is chasing current point leader Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 Dodge Ram. Drivers Travis Kvapil and Dennis Setzer are close at their heels and within 34 and 39 points of the lead, respectively.

"It will be a great finale weekend for the whole NASCAR series," Musgrave said. "It looks like Dodge could get its first championship driver to go along with its second manufacturer championship.

"Everybody on this Mopar team will definitely be better focused, but we're just gonna approach it like we have each and every race this season because that is what got us here."

The decisive race will be televised Friday LIVE on Speed Channel at 3 p.m. Eastern.

"Having it come down to the wire like this with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is fantastic. It's definitely put a lot of hype on this race, and that's really cool.

"Luck will have a lot to do with it at Homestead. Trying not to make mistakes in any parts of the equation. We know we've got a great Mopar truck and a great team. We just have to make sure the pieces are in place.

"It's kinda neat having the new surface at Miami. If it was the same old Homestead, I'd say the ball is in my court. Now everybody is starting fresh and it's gonna be a fair fight between any of us. Nobody's got a home court advantage.

"The drivers will need to adapt to the new surface, but we'll also need to adjust to a new tire that we've never run before. Running that new tire that Goodyear has for us adds another twist to it.

"Everybody's got something new, and nobody knows a thing about it. You just gotta adapt quickly and go from there."
    -- Ted Musgrave

-mopar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jason Leffler , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Travis Kvapil