RICHMOND, Virginia -- If you took a poll throughout the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage as to who had the most laps at Richmond International Raceway, Ted Musgrave would easily take top honors.
Musgrave will notch his 22nd career start at the famed .75-mile Richmond oval when he steers his No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram under the green flag in the Virginia Is For Lovers 200. Coupled with a solid 15.5 finishing average in 21 previous starts, including a career-best third-place finish in the 1996 Pontiac 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event, Musgrave and his Mopar Dodge should be at least than an even money bet to be the first to the checkered flag in this year's NCTS classic at RIR.
"Richmond is a thinking man's racetrack," commented Musgrave who finished fourth in last year's NCTS event. "You have to think about where you are on the racetrack all the time. As strange as this may sound, you almost have to carry the same mindset as you would going into Pocono (PA). You have a short backstretch and a long frontstrech. When you come off of Turn 4 at Richmond, the corner continues and opens up. It's a real wide exit. It's just the opposite coming off Turn 2 where it gets tight and the wall comes up very quick. You have to stay focused all night long and always be aware of where you are on the track."
As much as Musgrave enjoys racing at Richmond, the veteran driver is also quick to point out there's plenty to do away from the racetrack.
"Richmond is a very nice racetrack for the fans and their families," explained Musgrave. "In addition to all the fan friendly amenities at the track, there's always something to do in that area. The track isn't way out in the sticks anywhere, so there are lots of places in the city of Richmond for the fans to go and visit.
"It's not the kind of place where all there is to do is go to the track and hang out," continued Musgrave. "There's a lot of great history in Richmond and the surrounding area so that makes it a great place to take the family. You're about an hour from the mountains and two hours from the beach, so it's an area where you could spend a week or two and never do the same thing twice."
As a charter member of the Truck Series tour, Richmond has had just one repeat winner in seven events. While the tricky oval has yet to meet its' master, the "Action Track" has seen three division champions park their trucks in Victory Lane adding a historical significance to the post-Labor Day event.
"That makes it pretty interesting," said Musgrave who comes into the event third in the NCTS championship chase, just 61 points off leader Mike Bliss' tailgate with seven races remaining on the 2002 schedule. "We haven't had the best year as far as wins go, but we've notched nine Top-5s in 15 races, so the consistency has been right where it needs to be. I'm not going to look too far into who has won at Richmond and who has gone on to win the championship, but it would be nice to get a win and use that to build some momentum heading into the late stages of the season."
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.
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