Milaukee notes

WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Ted Musgrave has experienced a lot of good times in racing although, prior to the 2001 season, his career was stalled in neutral. Welcome, Ted, to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where - Joe Ruttman can tell you - things ...

WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Ted Musgrave has experienced a lot of good times in racing although, prior to the 2001 season, his career was stalled in neutral. Welcome, Ted, to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where - Joe Ruttman can tell you - things dramatically can turn around. Musgrave, a distant second most of Saturday afternoon to Jack Sprague, powered to the front after a late caution and when he took the checkered flag to win the GNC Live Well 200 the roar of the partisan crowd estimated at 20,000 was deafening. The Illinois native, you'll recall, moved to Franklin, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb, where he terrorized the Badger State short tracks before moving south to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Musgrave, driving for Roush Racing, was tabbed a "can't miss" prospect but, as sometimes happens, the pickings became slimmer and slimmer after his release and a succession of mediocre rides. Enter Jimmy Smith, who put Musgrave in his No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge where he's now captured four of the season's first 11 events - putting Musgrave in the company of previous NCTS champions Greg Biffle, Ron Hornaday, Sprague and Mike Skinner in terms of races won. Musgrave even has an outside shot at Biffle's season record of nine victories with 13 stops left on the schedule. Winning in Milwaukee, though, is pretty big for Musgrave regardless of how the remainder of the campaign turns out - as he recalled the lean times of the 1980s. "On 76th and Lincoln (we) had this shop in an old gas station. We had space for two race cars in there and another bay in the back with a rack, where we could raise the car," Musgrave told a Milwaukee reporter. "Well, that's where I lived, right there in the shop, more or less. No apartment or nothing. "After 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night, when we were done working, I'd make sure all the doors were closed and everybody was gone. I'd take a garden hose, hang it over the car rack, strip down and take a shower. Right there in the middle of the garage." Oh how times have changed!

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Musgrave was the first "cheesehead" racer to win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event in Wisconsin, bettering the best previous finish of a home stater - third-place, in 1997, by Rich Bickle of Egerton. Janesville resident Travis Kvapil finished third on Saturday to give the GNC Live Well 200 a definite homey flavor.

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Joe Ruttman, in finishing sixth, posted his 100th top-10 finish on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He extended his record as the oldest competitor to lead series standings at 56 years eight months two days. When Rick Crawford failed to finish due to engine failure it snapped the tour's current longest streak of 32 races without a DNF. Ruttman assumes the new string of 21, dating to July 9, 2000 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Ironically, the last time the Californian turned Nashville resident fell out was at The Milwaukee Mile last July 1.

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Sprague broke the three-way tie for most career poles won when he captured his 16th fast time on Friday. He'd shared the mark with Ruttman, who came within three-thousandths of a second of getting the record himself, and Skinner. The 1997 and 1999 champion led the most laps at The Milwaukee Mile - 167 - the third time in four races Sprague has done so and pocketed $2,000 in Gatorade Front Runner Award cash. Sprague, just 59 points behind NCTS pacesetter Ruttman, owns 75 lap leader bonus points thus far in 2001 - 25 more than any other series competitor. He's also the series miles/laps led leader.

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Dodge's ninth win of the season adds The Milwaukee Mile to the list of 12 current series tracks on which all three manufacturers have won.

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Raybestos Rookie contenders enjoyed a banner day at The Milwaukee Mile with four of their number finishing among the top 10. Kvapil's third-place run was good for rookie-of-the-race honors. He was trailed by Billy Bigley (seventh), Matt Crafton (ninth) and Ricky Hendrick (10th). The 2001 Raybestos Award battle shapes up as an equal of the 1998 Biffle-Andy Houston affair that went down to the final laps of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway finale. Hendrick clings to a lead of eight points over Kvapil. The duo, fifth and sixth for the NCTS championship, are separated by a single marker. Bigley's finish was a series best and fourth among the top 10. Crafton claimed a top-10 finish for the seventh time in eight races. "We're creeping our way to the front, slowly but surely," said Bigley after running as high as fourth-place. Observed Crafton, "We worked our tails off to get into sixth ... then we had a bad set of tires there at the end. We had a lot better truck than that (finish).

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Power Stroke Diesel, supplier of engines for Ford's super duty line of pickup trucks, will sponsor K Automotive and driver Terry Cook for six races in July and August beginning with the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. The team has been unsponsored since losing Mopar's backing after the 2000 season and switching to Ford. Cook thrilled visiting Power Stroke officials with a solid, fourth-place effort. "This is a hard track to pass on (and) you've got to worry about track position," commented Cook. "Unfortunately the last (pit stop) was the slowest of stop of the day and we lost one spot and we couldn't catch Travis." Also sporting new colors was the Horn Motorsports Chevrolet of Chris Horn who has acquired GNC product NASCAR Kids Multi Vitamins for a limited schedule that continues at Kansas City. Horn led his first NCTS laps Saturday.

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Teams will be required to compete with a 390 cfm carburetor in this week's inaugural race over the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. The reduced flow carburetor was used June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. One change allows teams to employ a hose to vent fresh air from the truck's nose to the air filter. That's expected to reduce some loss of horsepower and give drivers greater throttle response than they experienced in Fort Worth.

-NASCAR

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Mike Skinner , Andy Houston , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Hendrick , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Billy Bigley , Chris Horn , Travis Kvapil