Off-week news of note 2005-05-02

* Series pioneer Jim Smith keeps on truckin' with record-matching win * Ted Musgrave's Gateway victory is most dominant of pit stop era DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2005) -- Jim Smith, whose dreams became the reality of the NASCAR Craftsman...

* Series pioneer Jim Smith keeps on truckin' with record-matching win

* Ted Musgrave's Gateway victory is most dominant of pit stop era

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2005) -- Jim Smith, whose dreams became the reality of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series more than a decade ago, continues to makes his presence known -- and in a big way.

Smith, owner of Ultra Motorsports and one of four off-road racers who presented the concept of truck racing to NASCAR in 1994, is the epitome of "10 Years Tough," this season's celebration of the series' first 10 years.

The California native has entered at least one truck in each of 247 races and now boasts victories in all 11 seasons.

The latest win -- by Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) on April 30 at Gateway International Raceway -- was a record-matching performance.

Musgrave's victory was the 36th for Ultra Motorsports equaling Roush Racing's series-leading total. Smith and Jack Roush have traded the owner record back and forth since the latter joined the series fulltime in 1996.

Smith, a manufacturer of custom wheels in Southern California, wouldn't have it any other way.

"Certainly, this is a very important stat for our team," Smith said after joining Musgrave in celebrating the driver's second victory at Gateway -- the first driver to repeat as a winner on the 1.25-mile oval. "To be competitive on a level with someone of Jack Roush's stature is definitely an honor.

"Being the best at what you do is very important and while it's great to have achieved another milestone such as this, hopefully we'll be able to get into the position of leading the career wins statistic as the year goes on."

Roush has another accomplishment Smith is itching to share -- a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. Greg Biffle won the title -- Roush's first in NASCAR -- in 2000 and Smith has been close enough to smell the champion's celebratory champagne.

Musgrave finished second to Jack Sprague (No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet) in 2001 and has been a close third in each of the past three years.

Smith believes he has the lineup, Musgrave and fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Jimmy Spencer (No. 2 Team ASE Dodge), to get the job done in 2005. Musgrave currently holds a 13-point lead over defending champion Bobby Hamilton (No. 04 Bailey's Dodge) with Spencer fourth in the standings -- the latter just behind Roush's Ricky Craven (No. 99 Super Chips Ford).

"Obviously, everyone is racing hard(er) this year," said Smith. "The points battle is very tight and I expect it to remain that way throughout the season. I think the points lead will flip-flop several times and I really think the championship will come down to (the final race at) Homestead."

That wouldn't surprise anyone, regardless of the outcome. The season's last race has decided the championship in nine of the series' first 10 years.

NEWS & NOTES, PART II

Musgrave didn't lead 'em all but he came close ... Musgrave led 158 of 160 laps at Gateway to set a series record for domination by a winner in a live pit stop era race. There have been five occasions in which the winner led every lap - most recently by Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) at the old Louisville Motor Speedway in June 1997 - when pit service took place during a mid-race break.

Championship lead changes hands ... Musgrave, who became the series' sixth $3 million winner with a career total of $3,020,791, displaced Hamilton as the 2005 championship leader, occupying the top spot for the first time since the 12th race of the 2002 season. It's the fifth time that Musgrave has headed the points. Nine competitors among the current top 10 have started more than 100 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and/or NASCAR Craftsman Truck events.

ETC. ... At age 49 years 4 months, Musgrave is the tour's oldest winner since Joe Ruttman, 56 years six months, won in May 2001 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. ... Sprague and his crew chief Chris Showalter, the latter the only competitor to have performed in all 247 series races, will guest on Wednesday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Teleconference at 3 p.m. ET. Members of the media may call 1-800-946-0706. Sprague is the defending winner of the May 15 GM/UAW Ohio 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. ... Carolina Panthers Mike Minter, Mike Rucker and Stephen Davis will serve as Grand Marshals for the Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket on May 20 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Diamond Rio will perform the National Anthem as well as appear on the truck of Tony Stewart (No. 47 Nashville Music All-Star Chevrolet).

10 YEARS TOUGH

Mike Bliss and Mark Martin scored first victories for Ultra Motorsports and Roush Racing respectively. Ironically, both wins came at the old North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. Bliss won on Sept. 30, 1995 and Martin on Sept. 28, 1996.


$Fast Facts

Next Event: GM/UAW Ohio 250 (Race 6 of 25).

Where: Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.
When: 2:15 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 15.

Track layout: .5 -mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/125 miles.

Posted awards: $452,500.

TV: SPEED Channel, 2:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 winner: Jack Sprague.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice 11:30 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. -- 2 p.m. Qualifying 5:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Ted Musgrave 796. 2. Bobby Hamilton 783. 3. Ricky Craven 748. 4. Jimmy Spencer 745. 5. Todd Bodine 678. 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. 660. 7. Dennis Setzer 648. 8. Johnny Benson 643. Matt Crafton 519. 8. Johnny Benson 513. 9. Chad Chaffin 633. 10. Matt Crafton 631.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Greg Biffle , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Joe Ruttman , Chad Chaffin , Mike Bliss , Jack Roush , Jim Smith , Mark Martin