Crawford uses last-lap pass to snap 120-race winless skidPosted: Friday February 14, 2003 5:12 PM
Updated: Friday February 14, 2003 8:34 PM
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Rick Crawford got his first Truck victory in nearly five years Friday, losing and regaining the lead in the final lap of a frantic three-wide battle.
Crawford nipped Travis Kvapil by 0.027-seconds -- about 10 feet -- with Robert Pressley only a few feet farther back in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway. It was the season opener for the Craftsman Truck Series.
"We're driving a Ford pickup and this happens to be a Dodge race, so now we're the major of Truckville," Crawford said.
Pressley was leading about 200 yards from the finish line, but Crawford turned to the inside just before the tri-oval to make the winning pass. Kvapil then moved to the outside of Pressley, and nearly rallied to his third career victory.
"I don't even remember what really happened," Kvapil said. "At one point, I thought I was going to win. And I almost did."
It'd been 120 races since Crawford's only previous victory, but he nearly won the series title last year, losing by only 46 points to Mike Bliss.
"I can't believe it," Crawford said.
Bobby Hamilton, who fell out of the top five after brushing the wall while dodging a wreck, came back to finish fourth, and Andy Houston rounded out the top five.
A three-truck accident on the next-to-last lap brought out the caution, and since series rules mandate the green-flag finish, the event was stretched by six laps.
Pressley made the biggest run after the final restart, moving up from sixth. He twice went three-wide to the outside to pass trucks, the final time coming off Turn 2 on the last lap. With drafting help from Hamilton, Pressley motored past Crawford on the backstretch and quickly pulled away.
But the gap eventually led to his downfall. Crawford broke out of a battle to take second, then drafted up to slingshot past Pressley.
"When I saw [Pressley] go by me on the back straightaway, I said, 'Well, it's just a good run here at Daytona,'" Crawford said. "All of a sudden, he went by himself and I ... got a little closer to him in 3 and 4, and then off Turn 4, he put a block on me on the high side.
"When he did that, I dove low, and it was all mine."
Pole-sitter Jason Leffler and teammate Ted Musgrave were taken out in a crash near the midpoint, and Ed Berrier, driving a Chevrolet owned by Winston Cup star Kevin Harvick, was penalized twice for passing underneath the yellow line.
Berrier, who ran up front most of the day, eventually finished a lap down in 13th.
Wallace faded to sixth, followed by Dennis Setzer, Jon Wood, Terry Cook and Brendan Gaughan. None of the drivers involved in the accidents were injured.