South Boston: Dodge Motorsport preview

Dodge Ram duo races for series, rookie titles. SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (September 18, 2002) -- A Dodge duel is set for this Saturday at South Boston Speedway. Rookie Brendan Gaughan was the fastest driver last week at Texas, but fellow Dodge driver...

Dodge Ram duo races for series, rookie titles.

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (September 18, 2002) -- A Dodge duel is set for this Saturday at South Boston Speedway. Rookie Brendan Gaughan was the fastest driver last week at Texas, but fellow Dodge driver Ted Musgrave is looking to defend his title at South Boston from a year ago. This rivalry can only mean good things for Dodge, which tightened up a very close manufacturer points race with last week's win. Dodge moved within just five points of the lead following Gaughan's win in the 17th race of the season.

Brendan Gaughan solidified his Raybestos Rookie of the Year campaign with his second career win this last weekend at Texas in the No. 62 NAPA/Orleans Dodge Ram. He is the only rookie to take the checkered flag this season, and he joins Kurt Busch and Kenny Irwin as the only NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers to win multiple races in their rookie year. Gaughan's win last Friday was Dodge's seventh this year, and 35th overall in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The 27-year-old driver from Las Vegas hopes that win number 36 is just around the corner.

"Right now we're hitting what we feel is our most comfortable stretch," Gaughan said. "We're going to Las Vegas, Fontana and Phoenix, which are all tracks that the NAPA/Orleans crew is very familiar with. They are all on the West Coast, so we'll be close to our shop in Las Vegas. I've won at both Vegas and Fontana and we have our own notes to go back on, and look what happened at Texas when had some good notes to come back to. Last week's victory moved us up into 11th in the points standings and we plan to keep moving up as high as possible. We'll definitely be going strong right up to the end."

Ted Musgrave, driver of the No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, looks to be the favorite in Saturday's short track race in South Boston, Va. With less than 100 points separating the top four positions in the NCTS points standings, Musgrave hopes to use the .4-mile loop to vault out of the number three spot. He is 23 points out of second place and 63 points behind leader Mike Bliss. Musgrave is the most recent Dodge driver to have led the drivers points race, having been ranked first after five races this year - most recently after his fourth place finish at New Hampshire in July.

"The championship implications at South Boston are going to be huge," Musgrave said."You can get taken out early and loose a tremendous amount of points in one fell swoop. It's not the kind of place where you can just sit back and ride for 250 laps. There's always a lot of beating and banging and you'll probably leave South Boston with a lot of paint on your truck that wasn't there when you started the race.

"There are about five guys in the thick of the championship chase, and the one who leaves South Boston with a good finish is going to be the guy who's in good shape with four races to go. I grew up racing short tracks all over the Midwest, so I'm pretty comfortable at South Boston and places like it. It's a real fast, tight little racetrack where just about anything can happen."

DODGE NOTES

* The Dodge teams of Ultra Motorsports have an average qualifying position of 3.6. Jason Leffler earned his eight pole of the season at Richmond, while Ted Musgrave has started from the pole three times this year. Leffler has led in 14 of the 17 races in 2002, and the two teammates combine for a total of 964 laps led - nearly a third of the total laps run this year.

* In last year's race at South Boston Speedway Ted Musgrave stole the show in his No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram, winning the 250-lap race from the second position. He led 107 laps, earning the Featherlite Long Haul Award and Gatorade Front Runner Award. Musgrave's 2001 Ultra Motorsports teammate, Scott Riggs, finished third in the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram, while Joe Ruttman rounded out the top-five by coming up fifth in his No. 18 Dodge Ram out of the Bobby Hamilton Racing Stables.

* Brendan Gaughan distanced himself from the rest of the pack in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings with his second win last weekend. Besides being the top-finishing rookie for the 11th time this season, Gaughan was also the top-qualifying rookie for the seventh time in 2002. He leads all rookies with 228 points, 73 points ahead of Dodge teammate Bill Lester.

Dodge in the Running...

* Driver Points Standings (Ted Musgrave 3rd - 2499 points, Robert Pressley 5th - 2433 points, Jason Leffler 7th - 2408 points and Brendan Gaughan 11th -2197 points)

* Manufacturer Points Standings (Dodge 110 points, Chevy 115 pts, Ford 98 pts)

* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings (Brendan Gaughan 1st - 214 pts, Bill Lester 2nd -154 points, Rodney Sawyers 6th - 60 points)

* 1,248 laps led out of a total of 2,948 run this season (42.3%).

After 17 races this year, Dodge Rams have earned:
* Six wins
* 10 poles
* 30 top-fives
* 52 top-10s
* Over $2.6 million in winnings

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Leffler , Kurt Busch , Ted Musgrave , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss