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Crawford Waits His Turn, Then Gets the Victory

February 15, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The yellow line marked the winning way for Rick Crawford as he drove his Ford F-150 truck to a dramatic victory Friday in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 Craftsman Truck race.

On a one-lap shootout when the restarting field was given the green, white and checkered flags simultaneously, Crawford had the lead, lost it, regained it and fought off a pack of trucks to edge Travis Kvapil's Chevrolet and the Dodges of Robert Pressley and Bobby Hamilton, winning by 0.027 of a second.

"I was protecting that yellow line [at the bottom of the track]," said the Mobile (Ala.) winner. "My spotter said, 'Hey, stay on the yellow line and let them race for it.' We did. Then going down the back straightaway I saw the 59 [Pressley] on the outside, and I knew he was strong.

"All of a sudden, he went by himself and I followed him and got a little closer on him in [Turns] 3 and 4 and then, off of 4, he put a block on me on the high side. When he did that, I dove low, back to the yellow line, and it was all mine."

Pressley, last year's winner, said, "I just got overpowered on that last lap."

In the melee, Kvapil got up to second, with Pressley third and Hamilton fourth.

Crawford collected $84,585 after averaging 127.642 mph. There were nine lead changes among 12 drivers.

Jason Leffler, the pole-sitter, was knocked out of the race in a four-truck accident on Lap 48 of the 106-lap race.

Randy Briggs finished 14th, but he gained something more important. During the warmup lap, he proposed to his girlfriend, Mary Ward, on the truck radio to the pit box, and she said, "Yes."

"It seemed like the right time," Briggs said. "It was Valentine's Day, yesterday was her birthday and we're at Daytona. We've been dating three years and she loves this place as much as I do."

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