Starr earns second win of '04

Updated: November 5, 2004, 9:04 PM ET
Associated Press

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- David Starr won the NASCAR truck series race after dominant Ted Musgrave fell out of contention with a flat tire Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Musgrave appeared to be working his way back into the championship battle in the Craftsman series before his right front tire let him down in the Chevy Silverado 150.

Instead of a victory for Musgrave and a three-man title chase over the last two races of the season, the championship probably will be decided between Bobby Hamilton and Dennis Setzer.

"I think Jack had the strongest truck out there today,'' said Starr, who inherited the lead when Musgrave suddenly slowed with his flat tire on the 123rd of 150 laps on the 1-mile oval. "But my guys kept making all the right adjustments all day and we were able to hold off my teammate, Jack Sprague, at the end.''

Starr did hold off the Chevy truck of Sprague in a 10-lap sprint following the last of six caution periods, beating the runner-up to the finish line by 0.297-seconds -- about 3 car-lengths.

It is Starr's third career victory and second of the season, while Sprague has now finished second here four straight times and in five of his last six Phoenix races.

Matt Crafton finished third, followed by Shane Hmiel, Johnny Benson, Steve Park and Hamilton, who finished two positions ahead of Setzer and went from one point behind to seven ahead in the championship.

It is the closest point spread with two races to go in series history. The previous closest was in 1999, when eventual champion Sprague led Greg Biffle by 24 points.

Musgrave wound up 19th, a lap behind the leaders. Thanks to a five-point bonus for leading the race and another five points for leading a race-high 73 laps, he actually gained two points on the leader but still trails by 120.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press