Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

NASCAR Craftsman Trucks: Late cautions help Cook win Live Well 200

Driver surges past Leffler in last two laps

June 30, 2002

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— Terry Cook took advantage of a race-extending caution Saturday at The Milwaukee Mile, passing Jason Leffler with less than two laps remaining to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series GNC Live Well 200.

Cook, who'd led 127 of the race's first 154 laps before a slow pit stop dropped his Ford to fifth place, battled back to within a half-second of Leffler's Dodge but was running out of time when Brian Rose hit the Turn 4 wall.

The race's third caution extended the 200-lap, 200-mile distance for three laps the last two under green and Cook took full advantage.

The Ohio native was able to dive under Leffler's truck as the pair began the 202nd trip around the flat, one-mile speedway. He took the lead off Turn 2 and extended the advantage to .696-seconds about two truck lengths at the checkered flag.

Cook, who averaged 104.490 mph, won for the second time in 2002 and third in a 127-race NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career dating to mid-1996.

He won $48,960 plus a $10,000 sponsor's bonus for winning from the pole position.

Leffler, a U.S. Auto Club open-wheel champion who still seeks his first NASCAR victory, finished second for the third time in series competition.

"I was going to be heartbroken," said Cook, believing he was destined to finish second for the second time in as many races despite having the fastest truck. "I just yelled 'yeeha' when that caution came out. I was able to put an outside-inside move on Jason ... and I got underneath him for the win."

Leffler, who'd had to forfeit a No. 7 qualifying spot to start 30th after his crew changed an engine on race morning, blamed himself for the inability to protect his late lead.

"If I had to do it over again, I'd get a better restart," Leffler said. "I'm surprised I stayed ahead of him as long as I did."

Cook is the eighth different series driver to win at The Milwaukee Mile, which began in 1995. That was the first year of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

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