Ultra Motorsports

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Ultra Motorsports
Owner(s) Jim & Marlene Smith
Base Charlotte, North Carolina
Series Winston Cup & Craftsman Truck Series
Car numbers #1, #2, #7
Race drivers Ted Musgrave, Kasey Kahne, Mike Bliss, Mike Wallace, Scott Riggs, Jimmy Spencer
Sponsors Mopar, Sirius Satellite Radio, Team ASE Racing
Manufacturer Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet
Opened 1995
Closed 2005
Career
Drivers' Championships 1
Race victories 31 (Craftsman Truck Series)

Ultra Motorsports was a NASCAR Winston Cup and Craftsman Truck Series racing team. Jim Smith helped start the team and the Craftsman Truck Series. It ran full time in the Craftsman Truck Series from 1995 to 2005, earning 31 series wins and a championship in 2005 with Ted Musgrave. Early in 2006, Ultra announced that they would close up shop after a fallout with Ford.

Winston Cup[edit]

Ultra Motorsports began running Winston Cup in 1994, when P. J. Jones drove the #06 Ford Thunderbird at Phoenix, finishing 29th, nine laps down. The next season, Butch Gilliland ran the #38 Ford at Sonoma, but finished 42nd after an early engine failure. Ultra returned to Cup in 1999 with the #32. Mike Wallace qualified at Richmond International Raceway, finishing 24th.

Midway through 2000, Mattei Motorsports sold partial interest in the team to Ultra and Smith, who bought out Mattei one month later. Michael Waltrip became the team's driver for the remainder of the season and the team switched to Chevrolets (which Mattei was running), retaining NationsRent as the team sponsor. The team returned to the Ford marque for 2001 and also brought back Mike Wallace, who struggled and was replaced by Robby Gordon at Sears Point who had the team's best finish of second. Wallace left the team late in the season to replace Jeremy Mayfield at Penske Racing and Ultra signed Kevin Lepage, who had been driving the #4 Kodak car for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, to run the remainder of the schedule.

In 2002 Ultra Motorsports entered into an arrangement with Evernham Motorsports where the team would switch to Dodge Intrepids and Casey Atwood, who had been driving Evernham's #19 car and needed a ride once Mayfield became the team's second driver, would take over the car. The team briefly changed its name to Ultra-Evernham Motorsports and took Sirius Satellite Radio as its sponsor. However, the partnership dissolved after Smith decided to remove Atwood from the car with two races left in the season and replace him with his truck series driver, Jason Leffler. Despite this, Sirius stayed as sponsor, Dodge stayed as manufacturer, and Jimmy Spencer took over in 2003 and had four top ten finishes. Ultra even expanded to field a second car for Ted Musgrave in selected races, carrying Sirius sponsorship and #07. The team ran only two races in 2004 after struggling to find a sponsor.

In 2005 Robby Gordon purchased the team and named it Robby Gordon Motorsports.

Craftsman Truck Series[edit]

Truck #1 History[edit]

The #1 truck made its CTS debut at the 2001 Florida Dodge Dealers 200. Ted Musgrave drove the Mopar sponsored Dodge to a 22nd place finish after suffering water pump failure. Musgrave was able to recover and won seven races that season. Musgrave won two races over the next two years, and almost won the championship in 2003, but lost it after jumping a restart at the season finale. During the course of the season, he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. After another near miss at the title in 2004, Musgrave took only one win in 2005 but finally won the championship, the first in Ultra's history. Unfortunately, Dodge announced during the season that they would stop supporting Ultra's team. Ultra spent the offseason trying to work out a deal with the Ford Motor Company, but talks fell off, and Ultra was forced to shut down. The equipment and owner's points were sold to R3 Racing.

Truck #2 History[edit]

Ultra Motorsports made its official Truck debut in the series' first race, the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. The team was the #08 Ford F-150 driven by Mike Bliss, and sponsored by Smith's company, Ultra Custom Wheels. Finishing 14th in that race, Bliss ran with the team for the entire year, when it switched to #2 at Bristol. Bliss won once at North Wilkesboro Speedway and finished eighth in points that season.

In 1996, Team ASE Racing came on board as sponsor, and Bliss picked up two more wins and moved into fifth in points. After another top-five finish in 1997, Bliss slipped to tenth in the standings, and left for Roush Racing. Smith replaced him with Mike Wallace, who won in the first race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Another win at the NAPA 300K propelled Wallace to a sixth place finish in points. After winning twice more in 2000, Wallace moved up to Ultra's Winston Cup program.

In addition to switching to Dodge Rams in 2001, Smith hired Scott Riggs to drive the #2. Riggs picked up five wins as well as three straight pole positions, and finished fifth in points. However, he moved up to ppc Racing in the Busch Series, and Smith hired Jason Leffler to take his place. Although he did not win a race in 2002, Leffler had eight pole positions and fifteen top-ten finishes. Leffler returned to Ultra in 2003, and picked up a victory at the MBNA Armed Forces Family 200, but was fired for what was called a violation of his contract; Winston Cup owner Gene Haas had hired Leffler to temporarily take over the #0 NetZero Pontiac for Haas CNC Racing after regular driver Jack Sprague was fired and Smith dismissed him shortly thereafter. Jimmy Spencer and Andy Houston took over with Spencer picking up a win at Loudon. Houston returned for 2004, but he and the team struggled and he was released. P. J. Jones, Jamie McMurray, and Kasey Kahne shared driving duties for the season, with McMurray and Kahne winning during their relief duties.

In 2005, Jimmy Spencer returned to the #2. Although he was unable to visit victory lane again, he put together nine top-ten finishes and a twelfth place finish in points. It had already been decided not to run the #2 when Ultra announced it was closing its doors. The equipment and owner's points for this team were sold to Evernham Motorsports' ride for Erin Crocker.

Other teams[edit]

Smith fielded additional trucks in the Truck Series. In 1995, Butch Gilliland drove the #06 in five races for Ultra, and had one top-ten finish. Late in the season, Ultra fielded the #08 for John Borneman at Phoenix, who finished 29th. Eric Norris was selected as the driver of the #02 Wolverine Vinyl Siding Ford for five races, his best finish being 13th at Watkins Glen International.

In 1998, the #1 truck was occupied by Bliss while Dave Rezendes piloted the #2 in a one-race deal at Bristol. Later in the season, Kenny Irwin, Jr. drove the #28 Cintas truck at Phoenix, finishing in the 20th position. The following season, Joe Ruttman ran one race in the #12 at the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400K, but exited early due to a vibration. The same fate befell Norris when he ran later in the season at Texas Motor Speedway. Leffler drove one race at IRP in 2000, the last extra entry Ultra would field for three years. In 2003, Ultra debuted the #7 Dodge Ram. Stuart Kirby, Tracy Hines, and Tyler Walker piloted it that season.

In the 2003 Ford 200, Ultra fielded five trucks. This drew fire from fans and drivers, especially points leader Brendan Gaughan, who accused Smith as using the trucks as roadblocks to help Musgrave, who could overtake Gaughan for the points championship if he finished far enough ahead, take the championship. In addition to Musgrave's Mopar #1, Houston's Team ASE #2, and Walker's Dodge-sponsored #7, Smith entered the #10 Team ASE truck for Houston's brother Marty and the #27 Ultra Wheels truck for P.J. Jones. Gaughan would end up being taken out in a wreck with the #10 truck, cursing owner Jim Smith in his post race interview.

Gaughan's tirade was sprung from an incident where Marty Houston, who was driving Ultra's #10, got into an altercation involving Gaughan late in the race which knocked the points leader out of the race and cost him the championship. (As it turned out neither Gaughan nor Musgrave would become champion, as Musgrave was black flagged late in the race for passing before a restart and Travis Kvapil won the title instead.) The #7 would run final two races in 2004, with Norris driving. He would finish 13th at Homestead.

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