Ted Musgrave sees an entire fleet of former Craftsman Truck Series champions in his rearview mirror.
Fortunately for the series points leader, those guys — Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, Ron Hornaday Jr., Bobby Hamilton and Mike Bliss — aren’t close enough to contend for the championship this season, which concludes with Friday’s Chevy Silverado 150 at Phoenix International Raceway and next weekend’s Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
However, Dennis Setzer is right on Musgrave’s back bumper — just 63 points behind — and he’s also gunning for his first series title.
It’s been "close, but no cigar" for both the past few years as far as championship runs go.
Setzer lost the series title by 46 points to Hamilton a season ago and by just nine points to Travis Kvapil in a wild four-truck finish in 2003 that also included Musgrave. In 2001, Musgrave finished second to Sprague, just 73 points back.
So Musgrave and Setzer are plenty eager to finish strong in Phoenix and Homestead.
"Each one of us wants that trophy and we’re both running as hard as we can," Musgrave said. "Whatever happens, whatever the racing gods are going to give us, is going to happen. We’re both deserving of it."
Setzer appeared on his way to claiming the big trophy when he picked up his third win in five races on Aug. 5 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, stretching his points lead to 227 heading into the final 10 races.
Setzer’s advantage unraveled and he finally lost a meager five-point lead to Musgrave when Musgrave won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Setzer finished 19th.
And with another tight points race on hand, the truck series continues to prove why it doesn’t need a Chase format to make things interesting late in the season.
"It’s just a dog fight right now to the end," Musgrave said.
Chevy Silverado 150
When: 6 p.m. Friday Where: Phoenix International Raceway TV: Speed Channel Qualifying: 10 a.m. Friday 2004 winner: David Starr