Milwaukee: Musgrave - NASCAR spotlight

Musgrave, only Milwaukee Mile double-winner, defending champion DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2005) -- Ted Musgrave's (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) victory in last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at The Milwaukee Mile was significant in a number...

Musgrave, only Milwaukee Mile double-winner, defending champion

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2005) -- Ted Musgrave's (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) victory in last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at The Milwaukee Mile was significant in a number of ways.

Musgrave, who spent the formative years of his racing career in Wisconsin, became the first two-time winner of the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200.

Although he couldn't have known it at the time, Musgrave was the only Bud Pole qualifier to win a race in 2004.

Finally, the victory kick-started a season in which Musgrave went from 24th to third in the final championship standings.

"I said to my crew, 'see boys, we can do this every week,'" said Musgrave, who goes for victory No. 3 on Friday at the nation's oldest operating race track and one of just six currently scheduled facilities that were part of the inaugural 1995 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule.

"Milwaukee was a pretty cool deal," Musgrave said. "We won before a hometown crowd and a lot of the guys we used to race with."

The 49-year-old Musgrave, like many of his contemporaries, is a big fan of racing at The Milwaukee Mile for reasons other than prior success.

The layout is what Musgrave calls a racer's race track.

"There aren't any high banks and the chassis (set-up) can outweigh the motor and the body," he said. "You just have to handle well and a driver on that kind of race track can make a big difference."

Musgrave has done that, finishing inside the top five on four of his five trips to the State Fair Park facility where, as a boy, he watched father Elmer Musgrave race cars.

Ironically, Musgrave never has won a racing championship. He preferred to gain experience at many tracks rather than concentrate on one. Driving for Roush Racing, Musgrave finished second four times and won nearly $9 million in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career.

"I've got trophies, track records and a lot of achievements over there that a lot of guys don't have," said Musgrave, who doesn't consider any part of his career disappointing. "We won the last pole at North Wilkesboro (in 1996). You can't take something like that away."

A fulltime driver in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 2001, Musgrave has come close to winning a title. He was second in his first season with Ultra Motorsports and has finished third the past three seasons.

This might be the year that puts Musgrave and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pioneer Jim Smith over the top. Musgrave spent three races as the points leader although a last-lap engine failure a week ago at Michigan International Speedway -- the first by an Ultra Motorsports entry since midway through the 2003 season -- ended that run. He remains a close third, 24 points behind Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Dodge) entering the season's 11th of 25 scheduled races.

A championship also would eliminate a piece of racing trivia: No driver has won a NASCAR national touring series with a car or truck carrying the number one.

Musgrave hadn't really thought about that -- even though some stock car drivers historically have considered the number unlucky or a bit like bragging. All of his 16 victories, including his win at Gateway International Raceway on April 30, have come in Ultra's No. 1 entry.

"I'd never had it before so it was unique to get it," he said. "The only advantage I see is that I'm always first on the entry list."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ted Musgrave , Jim Smith