*Ultra Motorsports first to win in nine different seasons *Charlotte fans support series debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway *Lester first African-American Bud Pole winner of NASCAR Modern Era DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 21, 2003) -- Jimmy Smith was ...
*Ultra Motorsports first to win in nine different seasons
*Charlotte fans support series debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway
*Lester first African-American Bud Pole winner of NASCAR Modern Era
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 21, 2003) -- Jimmy Smith was first. And his team, Ultra Motorsports, maintains that distinction.
Smith, one of four off-road racing owners whose proposal to NASCAR Chairman Bill France resulted in creation of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, was all smiles when driver Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge) charged to victory May 16 in the inaugural Hardee's 200 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The Southern California businessman, who also competes in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with Jimmy Spencer (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Dodge), specializes in winning high profile, first-time events.
The Charlotte victory was the team's third such win. Former driver Mike Bliss won the first race at California Speedway in 1997 while Mike Wallace, another former Smith driver, went to victory lane in 2000 at Daytona International Speedway.
"Winning any first-time race is special but being here at Charlotte, the home of so many race teams, makes it even more special," said Smith.
Musgrave's victory was the 26th by an Ultra Motorsports truck in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition making Smith and his wife, Marlene, second all-time among winning owners. Ultra had shared the spot with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Roush Racing is the all-time leader in series races won with 26.
The Smiths are the only owners to have won at least once in all nine seasons of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Ultra Motorsports is due to celebrate a unique accomplishment on June 21 at Memphis Motorsports Park as the only team to have competed in all 200 series races.
Musgrave's Charlotte victory mirrored Wallace's Daytona triumph; both withstood significant, end-of-race challenges. Musgrave beat Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 American Racing Wheels/Orleans Dodge) by .233 second while Wallace defeated Kurt Busch by .237 for a combined margin of .470.
"Ted's the best [in the series] without a doubt," said Smith of the 47-year-old Musgrave, who'd previously competed in 22 NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series races at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "He's a wise, old driver. He doesn't get excited."
Smith also agreed the series' first visit to the 1.5-mile speedway was a successful beginning.
"There was some serious racing going on," he said.
NEWS & NOTES -- PART II
* Series gets Lowe's vote of confidence ... Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler called the Hardee's 200 "the best race we've had here in awhile. Race fans vote by coming and they also vote by staying. And the fans stayed through the whole night."
* No three-peat for Setzer ... Dennis Setzer's (No. 46 ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) bid to become the first series competitor since 2000 to win three consecutive races came to an early end when an oil fitting broke less than 20 laps into the race. Setzer, who won races at Mesa Marin Raceway and Martinsville Speedway, finished 23rd.
* Lester makes Bud Pole qualifying history ... Bill Lester (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge) out-dueled Jason Leffler (No. 2 Team ASE Racing/Carquest Dodge) for the Bud Pole at Charlotte, his first in series competition. Lester became the first African-American driver in the "Modern Era" (since 1972) to win a pole in a NASCAR national touring series. Wendell Scott had been NASCAR's only African-American pole winner, at Savannah, Ga. on July 20, 1962.
* ETC ... Musgrave's victory, coupled with a third-place finish by Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford), significantly reduced Bobby Hamilton's (No. 4 Square D Dodge) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points lead. Hamilton, who finished seventh, leads Crawford by 20 points and Musgrave by 50 heading into the next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on May 30 at Dover International Speedway. ... Gaughan seems to have the number of sister tracks Lowe's and Texas Motor Speedways where he has finished second, first, first and second in his last four appearances, respectively. ... Jeremy Mayfield's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut was auspicious as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitor finished sixth in an Ultra Motorsports-prepared No. 07 American Tire Distributors Dodge. All three Ultra Motorsports competitors -- Musgrave, Leffler and Mayfield -- were among six drivers to lead the Hardee's 200. Kevin Harvick (No. 6 Sonic America's Drive-In Chevrolet) led the most laps -- 70 of 136. ... Three of five series races have gone into "overtime" in 2003. A late caution extended the Hardee's 200 by two laps past its scheduled distance. ... Charlotte's event was the fourth of the season to be decided by less than one second. This year's total margin of victory is 2.562 seconds.