SOUTH BOSTON, Va. - Ted Musgrave, avoiding trouble that produced a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record number of caution laps, won Friday's bruising NetZero 250 to clinch Dodge's first series manufacturers' title. Musgrave, starting from the ...
SOUTH BOSTON, Va. - Ted Musgrave, avoiding trouble that produced a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record number of caution laps, won Friday's bruising NetZero 250 to clinch Dodge's first series manufacturers' title.
Musgrave, starting from the outside front row, led twice for 207 of the 250 laps around South Boston Speedway. He took the lead for the final time on the 165th lap, passing Terry Cook's Ford in Turn 4 of the .4-mile oval.
Dennis Setzer closed his ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet to less than a second - about four truck lengths - to finish in second place. The official margin of victory was 0.954 second.
The win was Musgrave's fifth of the season, matching teammate Scott Riggs' total. Ultra Motorsports, which fielded the winning Mopar Performance Dodge Ram, has won 10 of the season's 20 events.
Riggs finished third in the Team ASE Racing Ram, followed by series point leader Jack Sprague in the NetZero Platinum Chevrolet. Joe Ruttman's DANA Corporation Dodge finished fifth, trailed by rookie Ricky Hendrick, Terry Cook, Travis Kvapil, Mike Bliss and Matt Crafton.
Fifteen of the race's 25 finishers completed all 250 laps.
Musgrave, who won $42,385, averaged a 53.796 mph for the 100 miles, making the race the second slowest in NCTS history. Nine cautions, plus a red flag stoppage of eight minutes after lap 171, produced 77 laps of yellow - two more than the series record set Oct. 8, 1999 at Louisville, Ky.
The lap 171 accident, which produced no injuries, eliminated all five drivers involved in the Turn 1 melee. The race was halted to remove debris and mop up fluids.
The most spectacular crash, involving just a single truck, came on the 83rd lap when the left front wheel and suspension flew off Kyle Busch's Eldon Ford, sending the 16-year-old competitor backwards into the Turn 1 wall. Busch was unhurt.
Seven of the 10 non-finishers were accident victims.
"Strategy came into play for us," said Musgrave who inherited the lead from pole starter Sprague on lap eight - after a wrecked truck rolled into the point leader during a caution period. "Qualifying was big key. We just stopped once to stay up front and avoid trouble.
"It all came together for us."
Musgrave, one of six drivers involved in a tight championship battle with four races remaining in the season, advanced to fourth place in points with his victory. Sprague, with 3,075 points, holds a 37- point margin over Ruttman and is 57 ahead of Riggs. Musgrave is 132 behind, picking up 20 points at South Boston.
Sprague, who fell to 31st on the field after pitting to repair front end damage on lap 14. He steadily advanced despite stopped several times more for tires and fuel and reached the top 10 on lap 131.
Veteran Morgan Shepherd inherited the lead under caution on the 137th lap when Musgrave and most of the field pitted. Cook caught Shepherd on the 152nd lap but - his Power Stroke Diesel Ford belching smoke through the latter half of the race - began to slow.
Musgrave, who pitted for right side tires and gas on lap 136, ran down Cook to make what turned out to be the winning pass with 64 laps remaining.
Shepherd was among the drivers involved in the lap 171 accident and failed to finish.
The final caution was lifted after lap 222, giving Setzer - a former South Boston NASCAR Busch Series winner - plenty of time to worry Musgrave. Setzer, however, didn't have the truck mount a challenge.
"We kind of overextended the truck and got close to him and about the time I got there, I kind of used up the truck," he said. "I had to back down and cool the tires a few laps, so we didn't really make any headway.
"He was just a tick better than us."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next heads for Texas Motor Speedway for Friday's Silverado 350, a race previously slated for Sept. 15 and postponed by the terrorist attacks on the United States.