Preseason Test: Day three report

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Preseason Thunder Day 3: Ultra Motorsports Strengthens Lineup in 2005 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2005) -- The biggest mistake Ted Musgrave (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge) must avoid entering next month's Daytona ...

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Preseason Thunder Day 3: Ultra Motorsports Strengthens Lineup in 2005

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2005) -- The biggest mistake Ted Musgrave (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Dodge) must avoid entering next month's Daytona Speed Weeks is climbing into the wrong truck.

Musgrave, a high-profile competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Ultra Motorsports since 2001, has swapped rides in 2005. The 15-time winner has vacated the No. 1 Mopar Dodge, which carried 49-year-old Musgrave to four consecutive finishes among the top three in championship standings.

New Ultra driver Jimmy Spencer goes into the Mopar truck while Musgrave takes a seat in what was an all-star entry for much of 2004 -- winding up in victory circle at Martinsville Speedway with Jamie McMurray and Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway with Kasey Kahne.

So far anyway, the change in numbers hasn't rattled Musgrave.

"I've practiced that in the shop. I haven't made a mistake yet," said Musgrave, the 2002 Bud Pole winner at Daytona International Speedway, host of the Feb. 18 Florida Dodge Dealers 250. "but after four years, it'll be a little different."

Musgrave, who takes crew chief Gene Nead to the No. 2 Dodge, believes the move will provide a valuable one-two punch for Ultra owner Jimmy Smith -- the only owner with starts in all 242 series races and victories in each of the first 10 seasons of NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition.

"We're both going to be contending for the win and we figure to have two trucks up front all the time," he said.

Musgrave, who competed against his new teammate on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series for many years, just smiles when asked about racing with and alongside Spencer.

"I can't add anything else to what's already been said about Jimmy," said Musgrave.

Spencer, winner of the 2003 series race at New Hampshire International Speedway -- in the No. 2 Dodge -- rejoins Smith, for whom he drove in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2003.

And the Pennsylvanian couldn't be happier.

"The sport's really evolved and it's great to be driving something that you can win in," said Spencer, who'll celebrate his 46th birthday next month. "Ted and I will have the opportunity to win every week. That's what it's all about."

While Spencer knew about the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since its beginnings 10 years ago he never gave it much thought -- until recently.

"It didn't take off originally but talk to the fans now," said Spencer, a two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. "They like it as well as any series. I'm just proud to be a part of it.

"It's what I've always enjoyed about NASCAR -- intense, side by side racing. Every time you watch the trucks you know the race is going to go right down to the end. It makes my blood rush just knowing I can be in there."

Spencer would like nothing better than to give owner Smith his first title. Smith, owner of a custom wheel manufacturing business, is one of four off-road racers who brought the truck racing concept to NASCAR in 1994.

"He hasn't won the championship but he's been close," said Spencer of his owner, who finished runnerup with Musgrave in 2001. "It really would be cool if we could win the championship for him."


Chaffin happy with testing sessions ... For Chad Chaffin and the No. 30 Germain/Arnold Racing Toyota team, the last three days have been their first days together at the track. "I think we really got the attention of some of the competitors out here the past couple of days," said Chaffin. "We've been able to get out in the drafts and do what we want -- and we've run pretty fast there, too. I'm real happy and real optimistic about coming back down here for the race."

Random times on the board ... Here are some random speeds (single truck laps and drafting, at team's discretion) recorded during Monday's NASCAR Preseason Thunder: David Starr, 187.594, Ron Hornaday, 187.278, Kerry Earnhardt, 187.025, Ted Musgrave, 186.966, and Chad Chaffin, 186.862.

Kluever getting assist from Craven ... Todd Kluever (No. 50 Shell ROTELLA T Ford) is getting a lot of help from teammate Ricky Craven (No. 99 Superchips Ford) during testing sessions at Daytona and Talladega. "Ricky's been phenomenal," said Kluever. "He's been helping me to learn the ins and outs of building momentum around the high banks and how to make a run on the other trucks. He's helped me even more off the race track with my personal affairs and getting down here. He's just a class-act guy."

Renshaw excited about opportunity ... Deborah Renshaw (No. 8 Dodge) will kick-off her 2005 season with a new team, BHR2. Renshaw, who has never raced at Daytona in a truck, is looking forward to learning as much as she can from her new teammates, which includes 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Dodge). "Testing has been absolutely phenomenal," said Renshaw. "I've got an awesome team and look forward to running with the guys. My goals for Daytona are to obviously finish, utilize my equipment and use the knowledge I gained from this test session and hopefully I'll take the truck to the front."

Sutton ends testing, looking forward to coming back next month ... Kelly Sutton and her No. 02 Copaxone Chevrolet team spent most of their testing session working on qualifying runs and feel really good about their chances next month in the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250. "My team has done an awesome job this weekend," said Sutton. "I feel like our test went really well and one of my goals is to continue to learn which I felt I did this weekend." And how did Sutton spend her rain delay time? "My team and I get along really well, so we spent a lot of time together. I had to make a quick trip to the mall since I didn't expect to be here all three days."

The last teams on the track? ... Bobby Hamilton Racing's Bobby Hamilton, Chase Montgomery (No. 18 Dodge) and Timothy Peters (No. 04 Bailey's Dodge), and Orleans Racing's Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 Dodge).

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Preseason Thunder.
Where: Daytona International Speedway.
When: Jan. 11-24.

Track layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway.

Test schedule: Jan. 15-16 -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series; Jan. 18-20 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (Even-number car owner 2004 point standings finishing positions); Jan. 22-24 -- NASCAR Busch Series.


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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jimmy Spencer , David Starr , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Chase Montgomery , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Brendan Gaughan , Chad Chaffin , Deborah Renshaw , Todd Kluever , Timothy Peters