Musgrave gets better of teammate

Updated: September 9, 2004, 11:45 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ted Musgrave led all but 10 laps and held off teammate Jamie McMurray in an aborted two-lap sprint to the finish Thursday night to win the Kroger 200 Craftsman Truck Series race.

The race, forced to go extra laps when a caution came out with two laps left, appeared to set up as a classic duel between the teammates, but McMurray's chances ended when Matt Crafton spun on the first lap of the restart, bringing out another caution that ended it after 209 laps.

Under series rules, one attempt must be made at a two-lap finish under green, but a caution during that dash allows it to end under the yellow.

"Everything kind of fell my way,'' a relieved Musgrave said.

It was Musgrave's second victory this season, the 15th of his career and may have been twice saved by the flags signaling trouble on the track.

Musgrave, a truck series veteran, led 188 of the first 198 laps, but seemingly was about to lose the lead to McMurray until Jimmy Spencer blew an engine at the other end of the track, bringing out a saving caution.

"It was pretty scary when I looked and saw that No. 2 truck coming,'' Musgrave said of McMurray's Dodge, which beat him out for the pole.

"He was right there,'' Musgrave said. "... He could have forced the issue really, and probably would have taken the lead.''

Musgrave seemed more in control on the last restart on lap 207, pulling away quickly and leading by a truck length when the race ended.

McMurray, making his 22nd start in the series, said he knew Musgrave was racing for the series title and didn't want to take any chances.

"More than likely, if it had been anybody else, I would have won the race,'' he said after posting his top career result in the series.

Musgrave won by 0.193 seconds on the three-quarter-mile Richmond International Raceway oval and climbed two spots to fifth in points.

Two-time defending champion Tony Stewart, who started 10th seeking his third victory in four career starts in the series, moved his Chevrolet to third with about 45 laps to go, but couldn't challenge the leaders.

"I had a blast,'' Stewart said after finishing third. "These guys love a little competition and the level of talent for the drivers just keeps going up. ... They don't make it easy on you, that's for sure.''

Todd Bodine finished fourth, the top Toyota.

The race was rough from the outset for points leader Bobby Hamilton. He ran through some fluid on the track after just three laps and hit the wall in the fourth turn, pitted frequently and limped home in 26th.

Hamilton did retain the points lead over Dennis Setzer, who was 13th, but had his margin trimmed from 96 ahead to 57 with eight races remaining.

Carl Edwards, the top Ford in fifth, remained third, 76 points back.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press