Nashville: Dodge Motorsports preview

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series lead in sight as Dodge Rams head to Nashville. NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 7, 2002) - The path to a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship leads through Nashville Superspeedway this weekend as the teams of Dodge ...

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series lead in sight as Dodge Rams head to Nashville.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 7, 2002) - The path to a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship leads through Nashville Superspeedway this weekend as the teams of Dodge Motorsports keep sight of first-place in the drivers championship race. For the first time since April, three Dodge teams rank in the top-five of the driver standings. Jason Leffler leads the way in third place, but Robert Pressley has gained over 100 points on the series leader in the last four races and now ranks fifth.

Pressley and the No. 18 Square D/Dickies Dodge team can't wait to get their wheels rolling in Nashville. Pressley has collected four top-ten finishes in his last four races, including a win at Michigan. The No. 18 Dodge Ram has finished in fourth place in the last three Truck Series races in Nashville. Two races were held at the old Nashville fairgrounds and one last year at the new Superspeedway. With team's past success in the city of Nashville, and the momentum that Pressley has garnered in his first season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, this Dodge team has its sights set on victory lane.

"I think we have something for them this week," Pressley said."This is one of those really big races for the team. Everyone of the guys' families are going to be there and I would love nothing better than to win for them at the team's home track. We're just getting things going right. Danny (crew chief, Rollins) and I are starting to get in a groove, and people haven't seen anything yet. We have a long way to go before we're happy with where this team is."

Jason Leffler is another Dodge driver who is no stranger to success in recent weeks. He and the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram have finished in the top-five in six of the last seven races. In addition, Leffler has led laps in 13 of 14 races this year. He sits third in the points race, just 29 points out of first. In last year's inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge won the race from the pole. Leffler hopes to earn the same result this weekend.

"Nashville should be another good track for us," Leffler said. "I've never raced there, but I did have a great test there this spring, and it's the type of track where Ultra Motorsports always runs well. Scott Riggs won from the pole last year and Ted Musgrave finished second. We're taking the same truck we won the pole and finished fourth with at Kansas. We'll have a good piece, that's for sure.

"Big tracks like Nashville are places where we usually run very well," explained Leffler."What makes it even better for us is that the racetrack is concrete. Even though we didn't finish as well as we wanted to, we ran very well at Dover - another concrete track. The concrete surface seems to provide more grip than asphalt and if you take that into consideration it makes it that much easier to get the truck set up. It's the kind of place where it's fun to race and everyone usually enjoys themselves. When you go in with that mind set, you just seem to run better."


* The Dodge teams of Ultra Motorsports have an average qualifying position of 3.4. Jason Leffler earned his seventh pole of the season at New Hampshire, while Ted Musgrave has started from the pole three times this year. Leffler has led in 13 of the 14 races in 2002, and the two teammates combine for a total of 768 laps led - nearly a third of the total laps run this year.

* Dodge had a strong showing in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway last year. Scott Riggs raced the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram to a win from the pole while leading the most laps that night. Riggs' Ultra Motorsports teammate, Ted Musgrave, also led laps and finished in the runner-up spot in the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram. Joe Ruttman brought the No. 18 Dodge Ram in fifth, giving Dodge three top-five finishes in the race.

* Robert Pressley's win in the Michigan 200 helped cinch a Dodge"Grand Slam" in the last weekend of July. For the first time in its history, Dodge won races in the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch, and Craftsman Truck Series, as well as the ARCA RE/MAX Series within a three-day span. Pressley's win was his second in 2002, and came in his first race with new sponsor Square D.

* Bill Lester was the top-qualifying Raybestos rookie at I.R.P. in his No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram. Lester has been the top-qualifying rookie in eight races. Brendan Gaughan and the No. 62 NAPA/Orleans Dodge Ram has been the top-finishing rookie in seven races, and leads the rookie standings by 42 points.

Dodge in the Running...

* Drivers' Championship Standings (Leffler 3rd - 2050 pts, Musgrave 4th - 2023 pts, Pressley 5th - 2021 pts, Gaughan 12th - 1752 pts)

* Manufacturer's Championship Standings (Dodge- 93 points, Chevy - 91, Ford - 82)

* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Gaughan 1st - 181 pts, Lester 2nd -139 pts, Rodney Sawyers 5th - 56 pts)

After 14 races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
* Five wins
* Nine poles
* 27 top-fives
* 42 top-10s
* 1031 laps led out of a total 2,451 laps on the year (42.1%)
* More than $2.28 million in winnings


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jason Leffler , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan