EARLY BIRD LEFTOVERS   by Matt Kentfield
Musgrave, Jr. Gets Help From Dad, New Car for Bradberry & More
MUSGRAVE, JR. DOES DAD ONE BETTER

Ted Musgrave finished third at the California Speedway in Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and immediately flew home to help his son, Ted Jr., at Birmingham.  With his dad on the radio helping him Sunday, Musgrave, Jr. held off Charlie Bradberry for third in the closing laps.  With Augie Grill being disqualified in post-race tech, Musgrave, Jr. was moved up to the runner-up position.
"We waited for him to get back from California to come down here so I’m glad to have him here with us."

Musgrave was also glad to have such a great race with Bradberry over the final 10 laps.

“Charlie and I had a great race out there those last few laps.  I don’t think we even touched.  When you can come down here and run side-by-side with someone and not drive each other like idiots it’s a lot of fun.”

NEW CAR NETS BRADBERRY A PODIUM FINISH

Charlie Bradberry’s 2006 season may have already started at Speedfest in Lakeland, FL earlier this winter, but his performance there was rather forgettable.  There was nothing to forget about the Early Bird, though.  Bradberry and his #78 team wheeled out a brand new racecar and earned a hard-fought, third-place finish to get their Super Late Model season moving along.
Ted Musgrave watches his son.  (51 Photos)
“It was a good run; I’m happy to come away with a good finish,” said Bradberry.  “We just got this car brand new from the Grills last week and we just got it done this week.  We had a real good racecar, but we must’ve had some kind of tire issue.  We didn’t get any more than eight laps before the race started, so I’m happy with the way the car ran.  I feel like the next time we come out here, if we have a little more practice, we’ll be a lot better.”

Earning that finish required making it to the finish – which was not easy when the handling of his car went south.

"The first part of the race I had a great racecar,” said Bradberry.  “I mean it was great.  At the end of the race it was like someone flipped a switch because the car

Bradberry was all smiles prior to the Early Bird 100
"It was a pretty good run for us,” said Musgrave, Jr.  “I’m not really good here at Birmingham.  I’ve only been here like three times and I’ve just never had a real good car.  We unloaded the car with some old tires from Montgomery and we weren’t very good in practice.  I told my dad not to worry about it, let’s just put some tires on it for the race.  I didn’t know we’d be this good, though.”

As Musgrave had his battles on the track, the helpful voice of his Truck Series Champion father helped him to the strong finish.

“He was down there helping me change my line a little bit to keep from dragging the front end.  It’s always good to have him down here helping me out. 

picked up a push and it was a handful.  I was just holding on then.  I knew the car was good before and when it went away, I didn’t really have a shot for those other guys.”

In the closing laps, Bradberry went wheel to wheel with Ted Musgrave, Jr. for the runner-up spot, but ran out of time and had to settle for third.

“We had a real good race with him,” said Bradberry.  “I knew his car was a little bit better than mine, but I just wanted to give him a good race.  We never touched; we just raced side by side for several laps.  He’s a real clean racer.  The next time we race and I’m the one passing him, I’ll remember that.”

FOURTH PLACE FINISH FOR McGUIRE GOOD FOR THE OLD GUARD

With the young stars of Alabama short track racing as the favorites in Sunday’s Early Bird, Ken McFarland’s win along with Jackie McGuire’s fourth-place finish showed that the old school contingent can still get the job done.  Even though he’s been racing for years and has thrown around the idea of retiring, McGuire is having fun running well and learning the intricacies of today’s modern racing.
“I felt like a 47-year-old rookie out there today,” said McGuire.  “I relied a lot on my guys to help me slow down to speed up and that kind of stuff. 

“This is the third race on this car and the first one it finished.  I’m from the old days when we used to run a lot of springs a little bit of bar.  I’ve been away from things for a while now and it’s all changed so much.  I realized that I didn’t know much about it anymore.  I got hooked up with some good guys that helped me get the car ready so that I could just get back to driving and doing it all.  I’ve learned a lot over the years and the most important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t do it all yourself.  Especially when you work for a living and you can’t be on top of it.  This stuff changes almost hourly.”

Jackie McGuire
With solid top-five runs like he had on Sunday, it’s going to be hard for McGuire to step out of the seat.

“I probably should just quit, stop, or retire, whatever the hell you call it.  I just can’t make myself do it.  I know there’s another win in there somewhere for me.  I know we can run good.  If I’m going to get out of this I want to do it while I’m running good and running up front.”

ILL-HANDLING CAR COSTS CAHELA A GOOD FINISH

Keith Cahela is no stranger to Super Late Model racing in Alabama, so he knew the competition in Birmingham was going to be fierce.  That’s why he was frustrated with an ill-handling racecar that prevented him from competing with the race leaders.

“We started the race too tight and it never did loosen up for me,” said Cahela.  “It was just way too tight all race long.  We had a decent car but when you come down and race with these boys here you better be right when you get on the racetrack.  We were too tight and it put us behind. 

“We only practiced one time and came in and made changes that made the car too tight.  We went out to qualify and race with the same setup because they wouldn’t let us work on the car after qualifying and never could get going today.”

DISAPPOINTMENT AT HOME TRACK FOR HAMNER

Josh Hamner was expecting a lot more out of his Early Bird 100 performance.  Sure he may have struggled on the track, but the high hopes that he and the #38 team had going into Sunday's race at his home track of Birmingham International Raceway have been transferred to next weekend's Rattler event at South Alabama Speedway. 

CEven with the struggles on Sunday, Hamner is able to hold his head high knowing that the season is still young and there's plenty more opportunities for success.  He definitely doesn't want any repeat performances of Sunday, however. 

Hamner started third, giving him hope for a good run in Birmingham, but he wasn't able to keep the momentum into the race.  Even though he raced in the top-five most of the race, it wasn't good enough.



Josh Hamner
"If Lowe’s (Motor) Speedway is Jimmie Johnson’s house, this is supposed to be my house and I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to run good out here," said Hamner.  "I could’ve held on to finish fifth or fourth, but I didn’t come here to finish fourth.

"During the race we came in and changed a bunch of stuff with the car and it just made it worse.  It wasn’t handling at all.  We thought we made a change for the better but the car just got worse."

It was nice for Hamner to make a short trip home after such a frustrating race.  From the time he loaded up the #38 at Birmingham, focus immediately shifted to the Rattler next weekend.

"I'm looking forward to next week.  I’m going back to my old faithful, it’s the first Late Model we built in my shop.  It’s pretty sweet, so we’ll just keep our head up and see if we could go get them next week in Opp."

RENO'S RACE OVER BEFORE IT STARTS

Dennis Reno, Jr. had an impressive qualifying run for Sunday’s Early Bird 100, but before he could even get through the first corner in the race on Sunday his day had come to an end.  Reno’s brand new racecar shot to the outside wall in the first turn and had to be towed back to the infield with a destroyed front end. 

“Something in the rear broke because I was going straight and the car just turned hard right,” said Reno.  “I’ve never had one do that before.  The car felt squishy in the warmup laps but that’s because we’re on low air pressures.  We don’t use bleeders so we always start off real low.  I thought the problem was just tires.  When I went off into the straightaway it’s like that sucker just unloaded and I turned straight into the wall.  I’m alright but my brand new racecar isn’t.”

OKIE MASON WINS CRAZY TRUCK RACE

The strangest part about the O’Reilly Super Truck 100 lap feature wasn’t that there were six trucks in the starting lineup.  Amazingly, the fact that only two trucks
Reno's ride was severely damaged on the first lap.
finished the race wasn’t even the most shocking.  It was the way that only two trucks remained on the track for the duration of the race that is the most bizarre.

The excitement of final three laps of the 100-lap race more than made up for the first 97 laps of single file racing on Sunday afternoon.  The hilarity actually started with 10 laps to go with only five trucks still on track, when the second place truck of Richard Johns looked to have a run under Barry Martin for the lead before Johns’ motor blew coming off the fourth corner, bringing out the caution.  When the field restarted Martin was still the leader, but just a few laps later he slammed the wall between the third and fourth turns and collected the second place truck of Bubba Gale.
That left just two trucks on the track; Okie Mason’s #6 and Jeff Wainwright’s #00.  Mason was scored as the leader as he was the only one of the two still on the lead lap.  Under caution for Martin and Gale’s crash, Mason made several pit stops to fix a suspension problem in the front end of his truck, leaving only the lap-down truck of Wainwright on the track. 

With Mason on pit road, could Wainwright unlap himself on the restart and win the race as the only truck on the track?  Not Sunday.  Mason’s truck was repaired and he went on to win the crazy O’Reilly Super Truck feature.
Okie Mason's crew pits to keep him in the lead
“It was the strangest race I’ve ever been in,” said Mason.  “I’m sitting there in fifth and the guy in second had problems.  Then I’m thinking that now I’ve got fourth.  Then the 45 broke and I said ‘okay, I’ve got third.’  Then those guys got into the wall and I thought I was in trouble too but I missed it.  That’s one of them races where I’d rather be lucky than good.”