Martinsville: Dodge teams preview

Dodge Ram teams look to expand series lead as they maneuver through Martinsville. MARTINSVILLE, Va., (April 9, 2003) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams of Dodge Motorsports will try and resume their winning ways when they unload at ...

Dodge Ram teams look to expand series lead as they maneuver through Martinsville.

MARTINSVILLE, Va., (April 9, 2003) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams of Dodge Motorsports will try and resume their winning ways when they unload at Martinsville Speedway this weekend to compete in Saturday's Advance Auto Parts 250. The trip will be the series' first visit of the year to the 0.526-mile speedway, which was granted a second NCTS date to be held for the first time this October.

Dodge Rams earned a three-year sweep at NASCAR's oldest racetrack from 1999-2001 with wins from Jimmy Hensley in the No. 43 Dodge Ram, Bobby Hamilton in the No. 4 Dodge Ram and Scott Riggs in the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram, respectively. Dodge also lays claim to the two most recent pole positions earned at Martinsville (Joe Ruttman 2000, Ted Musgrave 2001).

Truck Series points leader Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram, won his first career NCTS victory at Martinsville from the second starting position in 2000. Hamilton is Dodge's only returning race-winner this weekend, and is one of the six drivers in eight NCTS events at Martinsville who have won the race starting within the top-10. However, Hamilton says track position is only one of the keys to finding success at Martinsville.

"Martinsville is a disciplined race track," Hamilton said. "I call it a small restrictor-plate race. I know that sounds funny, but it requires the same amount of discipline as Daytona does. You have to worry about things like keeping the nose on the truck or the brake ducts in good condition. You can't cave the grill in on it or it will bend the ductwork around it. It's hard on rear ends, transmissions and motors. About every gauge in the truck has to stay cool and that is very vital to a good race."

Hamilton's teammate, Bill Lester, will be striving to improve upon his first visit to Martinsville in 2002. Lester's No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram retired with 20 laps to go after being pushed into a spinning truck and suffering heavy damage early in last year's race. Lester says this weekend is an important one for the team as they attempt to build off of some early season success.

"We had a good race a few weeks ago (at Darlington), so I hope the momentum from that run will carry over to this week," Lester said. "We need to get through these two short tracks in solid shape, and then we'll be getting to places like Charlotte, which I hope to be a front runner right from check in at the track."

Lester also enjoyed a tremendous personal victory last weekend when he and his wife, Cheryl, welcomed a new addition to the family. On March 28, 2003, the Lesters welcomed William Alexander Lester IV (Alex) to the world. Alex weighed in at seven pounds, 12 ounces, and was 21 ¼ inches long.

"What an incredible few weeks it has been," said Lester. "I still just don't know what to say. It was the greatest day of our lives together. Even now, it's hard to believe that I'm a father."


* After three races, the NCTS championship race reads a lot like Dodge's 2003 driver lineup. Dodge has three drivers in the top-five of the rankings, and five drivers in the top-10. (1. Bobby Hamilton, 3. Brendan Gaughan, 5. Robert Pressley, 8. Ted Musgrave, 9. Jason Leffler). Tina Gordon, driver of the No. 31 3M Post-It/Microtel Dodge Ram, took reign of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race after finishing 17th at Mesa Marin. Gordon holds a one point lead over Carl Edwards.

* Bobby Hamilton is the only driver on the NCTS circuit to have earned a top-five finish in each race this season. Hamilton admitted at Bakersfield, Calif., "I told our team at the beginning of this year that we wanted to try to finish in the top five in every race this season. ... That means we are going full steam ahead to prove ourselves. If we finish somewhere around the top-five every race, then I think we will have reached a big landmark for our Square D Racing Team."

* Ted Musgrave has moved up the most points in the NCTS standings since the season-opening race at Daytona. Musgrave has made up 22 spots to move from 30th to eighth in the series standings after posting top-five finishes in the last two races. Jason Leffler has made up the third-most positions, jumping from 29th to 10th.

* Jason Leffler's top-10 qualifying streak came to an end at Bakersfield, Calif. Leffler had mounted a streak of having never started a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race outside of the top-10, with a career-low qualifying run of eighth. As he made his first visit to Mesa Marin Raceway, an uncharacteristically slow qualifying run had Leffler starting 30th. He was still able to finish seventh in the race.

* Bobby Hamilton's victory at Darlington was his 10th as team owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing - Joe Ruttman (five), Bobby Hamilton (three) and Robert Pressley (two). Joe Ruttman earned the team's first victory in March of 2000 at Phoenix Int'l Speedway, winning the race from the pole position in the No. 18 Dodge Ram. All 10 victories were earned in a Dodge Ram.

* Ultra Motorsports continues to exhibit its qualifying prowess in 2003. At Daytona in February, Jason Leffler and Ted Musgrave both qualified within the top-three for the eighth time since becoming teammates at the beginning of last year (24 races).

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Jimmy Hensley , Bill Lester , Carl Edwards , Les Alexander