Dodge back on top as truck series heads to Kansas. KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 03, 2002) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has a new points leader coming into the July 4th holiday weekend thanks to the red-hot ride of Ted Musgrave's No. 1 Mopar ...
Dodge back on top as truck series heads to Kansas.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 03, 2002) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has a new points leader coming into the July 4th holiday weekend thanks to the red-hot ride of Ted Musgrave's No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram. Musgrave finished one spot ahead of David Starr last weekend at Milwaukee, unseating the former points leader and putting Starr four points back into second place. Musgrave's fifth place finish was his series-leading sixth top-five on the year and his fourth consecutive top-five finish. The NASCAR veteran's finish puts Dodge at the top of the Driver's and Manufacturer's Championship race heading into Kansas Speedway this for Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250.
"We had an interesting afternoon at The Milwaukee Mile," said Musgrave, a native of Franklin, Wis."We qualified well, finished fifth and left with the points lead. It was a hard fought fifth-place finish, but I was hoping to finish a little higher in front of the hometown crowd. We've become very consistent over the last four races. We haven't finished out of the top-five since Pikes Peak, so in that regard I'm very pleased. Hopefully, we can make the transition back to Victory Lane with our new look at Kansas."
On a race day that's expected to rival the 120 F on-track temperature of last year's race at Kansas, Musgrave will be running a special paint scheme that sounds like it may have been designed by the Ultra Motorsports engineering team. Musgrave hopes a new look for his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram will help him beat the heat on Saturday and keep him running up front.
"They say sometimes a leopard changes his spots," Musgrave said."That's why we've decided to change the layout on the Mopar Dodge. The temperature was so hot in my truck during the race last year that it started to vapor lock. I think that cost us the race. The way our truck is designed, we have the front half of the truck painted black and the back half painted white. This week we're going to paint the front half white and the back of the truck black. We hope the lighter color on the front of the truck is going to help us keep the motor cooler. Hopefully, that's going to be the little extra edge we need to end up in Victory Lane when the day is over."
The No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram of Jason Leffler has been equally as hot lately. Leffler earned his third runner-up finish of the season at Milwaukee - most of any driver this year - but is still looking for his first win. Leffler sat on the pole in last year's Winston Cup race at Kansas, and hopes that knowledge will give him an advantage as NASCAR visits the track for only the second year.
"I had a great run in qualifying in the Winston Cup car last year and this year I want to do the same thing in the ASE/CARQUEST Dodge, but I plan to be there at the end this time and race for the win. The track is fast and really smooth. Kansas is pretty simple to get around. There are no major bumps or anything like that because the track is so new. You just stay as low as you can and try not to bind the truck up exiting the corner."
Raybestos Rookie Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 NAPA/Orleans Dodge Ram, has also been setting an impressive pace in his first full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Gaughan took his first NCTS win at Texas in June, and earned another top finish last week by finishing fourth at Milwaukee. He now leads the rookie race by 35 points, and ranks 10th overall.
"I ran at Kansas twice last year," Gaughan said. "We took fourth in the Winston West Series and were running strong at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race before crashing. This year, we intend to do a lot better. The crash last year was definitely driver error, but I think I've learned my lesson. At least I won't make the same mistake this time. Being back on familiar ground is always a good omen. Our past experience at Texas led us to first and testing prior to Milwaukee yielded a fourth. Most of the other teams have only been at this track once. If our luck holds, Kansas should be good for us too."
* The Dodge teams of Ultra Motorsports have an average qualifying position of 2.7. Jason Leffler earned his series-high fourth pole at Texas, while Musgrave has sat on the pole twice this year. Leffler has led in all nine races of the 2002 season, and the two teammates combine for a total of 652 laps led - more than 40% of the total laps run so far this year.
* Ted Musgrave was the top-finishing Dodge Ram in last year's Inaugural O'Reilly 250, finishing in the runner-up spot. Joe Ruttman, in the No. 4 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram, started the race as the highest qualifying Dodge in sixth place. The Dodge Rams of Musgrave and Brendan Gaughan both led laps that day.
* Brendan Gaughan extended his streak as the top-finishing Raybestos rookie to four races with his fourth place run at Milwaukee - he has been the top-finishing rookie in six total races this year. Gaughan has been the top-qualifying rookie in the last two races. No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram driver Bill Lester has been the top-qualifying Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in five races this year.
Dodge has the lead in...
* Drivers' Championship Standings (Musgrave 1378 points, Leffler 5th - 1293 points, Robert Pressley 8th - 1222 points, Brendan Gaughan 10th - 1200 points)
* Manufacturer's Championship Standings (Dodge- 62 points, Chevy - 57, Ford - 52)
* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Brendan Gaughan 126 pts, Lester 2nd -91 points, Rodney Sawyers 5th - 56 points)
* 839 laps led out of a total 1627 laps on the year (51.6%)
After seven races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
* Four wins
* Six poles
* 17 top-fives
* 28 top-10s
* $1.58 million in winnings