Texas II: Round 23 preview

Musgrave dominant in Texas but Setzer better at finding Victory Lane Todd Bodine closing on top three championship finish DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2005) -- Statistics don't always tell the whole story and for that reason Dennis Setzer (No....

Musgrave dominant in Texas but Setzer better at finding Victory Lane
Todd Bodine closing on top three championship finish

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2005) -- Statistics don't always tell the whole story and for that reason Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Z71 Silverado Chevrolet) feels optimistic this week about gaining ground in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship race.

On paper, point leader Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) looks like a heavy favorite to win Friday's Silverado 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Musgrave, who leads Setzer by 51 points with three races remaining, is a front-runner whenever the series visits 1.5-mile TMS. He's tied first in series races led (six) and fourth among laps led (191) at TMS.

Conversely, Setzer has led four races and just 71 laps there.

The scoreboard, however, shows something else when it comes to taking the checkered flag: Setzer has two wins. Musgrave, despite his dominance, has yet to visit Victory Lane.

Setzer also leads in top fives, six to three.

The "luck factor" -- which always seems to play into a close championship battle -- definitely has favored Setzer, at least in the Lone Star State. Musgrave, on the other hand, has done everything but seal the deal as victory has eluded not only the 49-year-old competitor but his team, Ultra Motorsports, as well.

"This will be an important race and could be very interesting to see how it turns out for us," said Setzer, whose most recent Texas victory came in June 2004. "Ted has dominated this race several times but never won it. We have never dominated it but we have two wins."

Setzer, the standings leader for much of the year before giving up the advantage last month at Martinsville Speedway, could use some luck -- which well may have transferred itself to the Musgrave camp.

The roof appeared to cave in on Musgrave last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway after an early-race incident left the driver's Dodge battered and in 28th place. The point difference was down to three before Musgrave rallied to finish 14th to Setzer's 13th.

Setzer, who finished third at Texas in June -- Musgrave was 14th - is pleased the return visit is a night race unlike last year's afternoon affair.

Both of his Texas wins came after dark.

"We haven't run well here during the day," he said. "We tested a few weeks ago in the sun and it was a hundred degrees and we weren't very good. So maybe a nice cool night will be better for our setup." Musgrave's lead is sixth-closest in series history with three races remaining. The leader at this point of the season has gone on to claim the championship six of 10 times.

***

Mathematically, Todd Bodine (No. 30 Germain Motor Company Toyota) remains in the thick of the championship battle but realistically the defending winner of the Silverado 350 is most hopeful of landing a top-three points finish.

Bodine, a 2005 winner at Kansas Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, finished second to Kyle Busch (No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet) in Atlanta to draw within 13 points of Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet). Hornaday is third in the standings. Bodine trails Musgrave by 256 points.

The Atlanta finish was Bodine's ninth among the top five and 12th in the top 10. Bodine, with $474,127, ranks second in money won to Setzer's $537,055.

Bodine -- and team owner Stephen Germain -- may look back on the year as a case of "oh, what might have been."

Bodine left the team at the conclusion of last season but reunited with Germain and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. for the season's 11th event at The Milwaukee Mile. With seven finishes among the top three over the most recent 10 races, Bodine has moved from 15th to his current fourth.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Kyle Busch