Racing beat

Ted Musgrave

Teddy Says Relax
Ted Musgrave used to walk through NASCAR garages and cringe.

While driving in the top stock car series, he would invariably be asked the same question:
“When are you going to win a race?”

The man formerly known as the best Cup driver to have never won in the series has no such worries now – especially after garnering a stunning seven NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories in 2001. And after trading in his car for a truck, he has finally claimed a NCTS crown.

With the 2006 season already underway, Musgrave will try to make it two in a row – although his early struggles are never far from his mind.

“Being a short track racer, when you’re growing up and going through the ranks, you had plenty of opportunities to go win championships at your local race track out in the boonies somewhere that nobody had even heard of,” says Musgrave, who had one win in 2005. “What we did living in Illinois and Wisconsin, I’d have to race against people like (Dick) Trickle and Matt Kenseth and all these other guys. You’d run, and if you stayed at that certain race track you may have won the championship, but I elected to go around the country a little bit and run against people in Michigan and Ohio and all around. Just to see how good you are.

“You may be really good in your back yard, but you don’t really know how you’d stand up to the guys around the country.”

Musgrave tried his hand at virtually all forms of competition.

“I went out to Phoenix and ran the Copper Classic,” he says. “We won out there, and we’ve been to the Snowball Derby and won out there. The only one I didn’t actually win, and I regret it a lot, is in Nashville in the All-American 400.

Now in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Musgrave is competing against the best in the world, he says.

He has come close in the past but had yet to snatch the brass ring in the truck series until 2005. He can have more fun now that the championship monkey is off his back.

“It’s kind of a neat mix because we’ve got a lot of veterans from the Cup Series, the Busch Series and also now, mix that in with a lot of fresh, young drivers coming up like Todd Kluever, and it’s a great series,” he says. “After our races, we get to go home and then turn on the TV and watch the Cup race. I put my feet up on the couch and say ‘suckers.’ We’re home, and you’re still racing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s big glory over there, and all the money and all kinds of stuff. But I traded that in four years ago, and I’ll never go back.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

“This is much more fun. Over there the pressure is just so high. The pressure’s off. You just keep your mind on racing and have fun.”

Con-Way to sponsor NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team
Con-Way Transportation will be the No. 60 Wyler Racing team’s primary sponsor for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ 2006 race season.

The race team is owned by Jeff Wyler, of the Cincinnati-based Jeff Wyler Automotive family of dealerships. The team competed in 15 Craftsman Truck Series events during the 2005 season. Three-time series champion Jack Sprague drives for Wyler. Sprague dominated the fall 2005 Atlanta race leading 45 laps before a last-turn accident spoiled the win. He went on to bring home the team’s best finish at the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in second place.

Sprague holds the most records in the history of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and is the only three-time series champion – 1997, 1999 and 2001. His records include winning the most poles – 28 total – the most Top-Five and Top-10 finishes, most miles completed, miles led and most races finished on the lead lap. He is second on the all-time win list with 25 trips to victory lane.

New Look for Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway is repaving its track, a project that will be ready in time for the October Nextel Cup event. It will include complete asphalt repaving of the 2.66-mile tri-oval track, apron and pit road.

A portable asphalt plant was mobilized to the site in December, and on-site work began in February, when trial batches of the asphalt pavement were produced and asphalt test strips constructed on superspeedway property. Engineers also began formulation of asphalt mix designs and designing the required equipment modifications in December. The repaving project will begin immediately following the April 28-30, 2006 Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega.

“Twenty-six years has certainly been a long time to go without necessitating a project this extensive, so there is no question that the time has come for us to repave. It will ensure that Talladega Superspeedway continues to uphold its reputation for the most exciting, most competitive racing throughout the entire NASCAR circuit for years to come,” says Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch. “If our track history is any indication, it will increase the level of competitiveness. The first race held here after our last repaving project was one of the most exciting on the record books.”

This will be the fourth paving project for Talladega Superspeedway, with the first being the actual construction of the track for its opening in September 1969, which was followed by a repaving project completed in time for the 1970 season. The third and most recent paving was completed at the conclusion of the 1979 racing season. When drivers tested and practiced on the new surface prior to the May 4, 1980 race, they gave it rave reviews – pointing out how the new, smooth surface greatly enhanced drafting and overall handling ability. The result was one of the most exciting races and dramatic finishes yet at the still-young superspeedway. A dozen drivers swapped the lead 40 times, and Buddy Baker took his fourth Talladega Superspeedway victory in that event, winning by just 3 feet after crossing the line side-by-side with Dale Earnhardt.

Several top NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers say the project comes as no surprise considering the age of the existing surface, and that the new surface will likely make the racing even more exciting at the legendary superspeedway.

“Everyone should be able to hold it wide-open all the way around the whole day. The fastest car will rise to the top,” says defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. “Repaving is something you’ve got to do every now and then. It’s part of what racing is all about. And in Talladega’s case, to go that many years without having to repave a race track is pretty impressive.

“It shows how good a job Talladega Superspeedway has done of maintaining their facility and their race track. I’m pretty impressed with what they’ve been able to do. Hopefully this new surface will last them another 30 or 40 years.”