Originally created 04/13/02

NASCAR notebook



MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Ted Musgrave got two chances Friday to qualify for the Advance Auto Parts 250 at the Martinsville Speedway and he made the most of both tries.

His first attempt in time trials around the .526-mile raceway was erased when NASCAR failed to get a time on his first of two laps. He came back later in the session to post a lap of 92.864 mph in a Dodge pickup to start out front for today's race (2 p.m., ESPN2).

The confusion surrounding Musgrave's qualifying effort wasn't the only problem for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Dennis Setzer, who qualified fifth, was disqualified after inspectors found an illegal right-front suspension spring on his Chevrolet.

That forced him to use a provisional exemption to make the 36-truck race. By doing that, Brendon Gaughan moved up one notch in speed charts to make the race and Dana White, who qualified for the fourth and final provisional exemption, suddenly was sent packing. The 32 fastest speeds make the starting lineup as well as four provisionals based on car owner points.

Jason Leffler will start second at 92.417 mph, followed by Winston Cup Series car owner Andy Petree in third at 91.945, Rick Crawford in fourth at 91.887, Travis Kvapil in fifth at 91.789, Mike Bliss in sixth at 91.691, Terry Cook in seventh at 91.686, Jon Wood in eighth at 91.461, Brian Rose in ninth at 91.157 and Bobby Dotter in 10th at 91.130.

Former Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, who retired after the 2000 season to become a commentator with FOX Sports, makes his return with a 19th-place qualifying effort. His Dodge truck was timed at 90.651 mph.

MARTINSVILLE FIRES BACK: Speedway president Clay Campbell was quick to fend off recent criticism that the Winston Cup Series continues to award his Martinsville Speedway two racing dates while premier facilities at Southern California, Las Vegas and Texas each have one.

"Some people were quoted last week (at Texas) saying Martinsville shouldn't be on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule," Campbell said., "That irritates not only me, but all the fans who have supported this track since I was just a boy.

"I think if you as any of the fans here this weekend, they would say they're here because Martinsville is one of their favorite tracks. I don't think the fans want to see a race move anywhere, especially to a one-groove track that has probably had more problems in its five-year history than we've had in 55 years. If I were running the track, I'd be happy to have one race and get it right."

The Texas Motor Speedway has had its share of problems in its six-year history. The first and fourth turns were designed after the first race and the raceway was re-paved several months ago to eliminate some of the bumps.

Despite its problems, however, one race at Texas draws more fans that both racing weekends at Martinsville. And Texas argues there's a tremendous difference in racing in the Dallas-Forth Worth area than in southern Virginia.

Moments before Campbell sent out his release Friday, the public address announcer reminded fans there were "plenty" of good seats of the 80,000 available for Sunday's Virginia 500.

All 154,000 seats at Texas have been sold out for every Winston Cup race.

"I just irritates the heck out of me when I hear some other track operator talking about big markets and all that other self-serving stuff. Martinsville might not have as many seats as some tracks, but the races here are a lot more exciting than races at some of the places doing all the talking."

THE TAXMAN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a quick exit from the Martinsville Speedway after Friday's qualifying session. The reason: He had to do his taxes.

"There are so few off days in our sport, so when you have a chance to go back home and get some work done, you have to do it," Earnhardt Jr. said after qualifying third for Sunday's race. "It's tax season. I'll sit down with my sister and sign a bunch of papers."

When told of Earnhardt Jr.'s situation, pole-sitter Jeff Gordon laughed.

"If he's doing his own taxes, he's got real problems," Gordon said.

HELPING HAND: Driver Jon Wood and his Jack Roush race team will donate a portion of the money earned today during the truck race to a 17-year-old boy who was injured in a drunk-driving accident in Stuart, Va.

Joshua Hill suffered injuries to his brain, leg, hip and spinal cord when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

"When I heard about this accident, I knew that I wanted to help," said Wood, whose family, the famed Wood Brothers, is based in nearby Stuart. "I went to the same high school as Josh and tried to think of some ways that I could help. I thought by donating a portion of my winnings at Martinsville it would help offset some of the family's medical expenses."

Wood's Ford will start ninth.