NASHVILLE, Tennesee -- Ted Musgrave and his Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram bounced back from a pair of taxing races, rolling to a third-place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Federated Auto Parts 200 at Nashville Superspeedway Saturday night.
"It wasn't as good a finish as we were hoping for, but considering the way we finished in our last two races, I'll take third and go on," commented Musgrave. "The Mopar Dodge was really good. We were leading with 11 to go, but we got held up by a lapped truck on the second to last restart and that was the end of our party. I know we had a truck capable of winning, so it's kind of disappointing from that perspective."
In time trials, Musgrave toured the 1.333-mile suburban Nashville oval in 30.883 seconds (155.386 mph), posting the third fastest time in the 36-truck field.
At the drop of the green, Musgrave wasted little time proving he was one to watch, charging to the point by the time the field came around to complete the third lap.
The Franklin, WI driver continued to pace the field for the next 18 circuits, until comfortably settling in to the Top-3 prior to making his first pit stop of the night under green flag conditions. Following a Lap-60 four-tire stop, including a full load of fuel and a chassis adjustment, Musgrave returned to the action, recapturing the lead just past the halfway mark of the 151-lap event.
When the second caution flag of night waved for an incident involving Musgrave's Ultra Motorsports teammate Jason Leffler, the veteran driver again headed to pit road for service. After two tires and one can of gas, Musgrave roared off pit road and back into the lead, setting up a dicey battle with NCTS veterans Rick Crawford and eventual winner Mike Bliss.
Back under green, Musgrave was only able to hold off Bliss for two laps after the lapped vehicle forced the nine-time Truck Series winner up the track, allowing Bliss and Crawford to slip by.
The third-place effort earned Musgrave $21,515, but more importantly boosted him to third in the chase for the NCTS points title, just 61 markers behind leader Mike Bliss with seven events remaining on the 2002 calendar.
"I had a lot of fun out there," explained Musgrave following the event. "Rick (Crawford) and I raced each other all night swapping for positions and that's what racing is all about - passing each other and getting passed back. We had a good race and put on a good show for the fans. I think we both have a great deal of respect for one another and that's why we can race each another all night and walk away smiling.
"We were just hoping for better than a third-place finish," continued Musgrave. "On our last pit stop we took two tires and the guy who won took four. Combine that with being run all the way up into the third groove by a guy who wasn't racing for the win, well, that was the difference. We've got some time off before we go to Richmond to put our heads together and see what we need to do to win some more races before the season is over. I've had some pretty good runs at Richmond in a Winston Cup car and I finished fourth in the Mopar Dodge last year, so everyone is looking forward to next month."
The Virginia is for Lovers 200 at Richmond International Raceway will take the green flag Thursday, September 5 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 16th race on the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast on a delayed basis at 10 p.m. Eastern on ESPN and broadcast live on MRN radio nationwide.
ABOUT MOPAR PERFORMANCE PARTS…
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