Madison: Dodge Motorsports preview

Dodge Rams see St. Louis as Gateway to continued success. MADISON, Ill. (May 1, 2002) - The 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is a long race in and of itself, but so far Dodge has led the way. With two wins and three poles in the first...

Dodge Rams see St. Louis as Gateway to continued success.

MADISON, Ill. (May 1, 2002) - The 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is a long race in and of itself, but so far Dodge has led the way. With two wins and three poles in the first three races, the Dodge Rams of Dodge Motorsports will travel to Gateway Int'l Raceway for the Ram Tough 200 where they hope to match last season's 1-2 finish for the manufacturer.

Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, knows his way around Gateway. The Franklin, Wis. native won last year's race from the pole position by the third largest margin of victory in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history (10.428 seconds). He led more laps in last year's race (140 out of 160) than any other driver has recorded in their entire career at the track. Coming back to St. Louis, Musgrave says he like his chances on the 1.25-mile raceway.

"It's a driver's type of track," Musgrave said. "Don't get me wrong - you have to have a good truck or you won't go anywhere - but the guy who knows his way around St. Louis can take a mediocre truck and make it a pretty good one. It's that kind of track where you have to set up the truck so it's more or less at a happy medium. Then the driver has to get the best out of it. If you can get your truck set up really good to get up off the corner, you can make some nice passes down the front straightaway."

Dodge driver Bill Lester will also make his second appearance at St. Louis this weekend, returning to the site of his first start with Bobby Hamilton Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"That was a big deal," Lester said. "It was my break so to speak. Now I'm just excited about going back to St. Louis because it's a place that I'm familiar with. It's a track that requires a lot of technical skill. You have to down shift into turn one, and up shift off the exit of turn two. Each corner is different and I think that fits my style of driving. It's also a place that I have gone through practice and qualifying so I have a good idea of what to expect."

This year Lester is running for rookie of the year honors in the No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram of Bobby Hamilton Racing. He has made impressive strides in 2002 - notably at Daytona where he ran as high as second - but has had more than one run ruined by accidents caused by a competitor's truck.

St. Louis is Ram Tough

This year marks the fifth consecutive year for Dodge as the title sponsor of the Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. It's also the sixth consecutive year for Dodge as the official car and truck of Gateway Int'l Raceway. Sunday's Dodge Ram pace car will be decaled like the No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram of Bill Lester, and will be given away in a Dodge promotion later this year. The Dodge Ram is the official pace car at all 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races.

Dodge Teams Share Friendly Competition

On Thursday afternoon, the No. 43 Dodge Ram team of Petty Enterprises will take on the No. 8 Dodge Ram team of Bobby Hamilton Racing in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Pit Crew Challenge. The teams will host the event outside of the St. Louis North DaimlerChrysler automotive plant. The team earning the best three out of five times will be declared the winner. Though only two teams are competing, many of Dodge's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers will attend the event and sign autographs - including Ted Musgrave, Robert Pressley, Jason Leffler, Bill Lester, Carlos Contreras, Brian Rose and Brendan Gaughan.

DODGE NOTES

* For the second time this year, 15 Dodge Rams will attempt to qualify for an NCTS race. At Martinsville a record 14 Dodge Rams started the race.

* In last year's race at St. Louis, Ted Musgrave earned Dodge's first win and second pole at the track. Stacy Compton earned the manufacturer's first pole at the track in 1999.

* Ted Musgrave won the 2001 St. Louis race by third largest margin in NCTS history (May 6, 2001 - 10.428 seconds). Earlier that year Musgrave posted the second largest margin of victory at Homestead-Miami (March 4, 2001 - 10.588 seconds).

* The Dodge teams of Ultra Motorsports have an average qualifying position of second place, and have yet to qualify outside of the top-five this year. Ted Musgrave and Jason Leffler have both earned at least one pole, and have led laps in all three races this year.

* The 1-2-3-4 finish of Dodge Rams in February's Florida Dodge Dealers 250 was the first time Dodge had swept the top four spots of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

* Dodge has the lead in... * Driver's Championship Points Race (Robert Pressley 1st, Ted Musgrave 2nd)

* Manufacturer's Championship Standings (Dodge - 22 points, Chevy - 21, Ford - 14)

* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Brendan Gaughan 33 pts, Lester 3rd - 23 points, Rodney Sawyers 6th - nine points, Donnie Neuenberger 7th - eight points, Angie Wilson 9th - seven points)

* 313 out of 497 laps on the year

* After three races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
Two wins
Three poles
Six top fives
10 top-10s
$563,375 in winnings

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Stacy Compton , Ted Musgrave , Carlos Contreras , Brian Rose , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Angie Wilson , Donnie Neuenberger