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Published: Sunday, 7/21/2002

Cook takes two-lap dash for NASCAR truck victory


LOUDON, N.H. - Sylvania native Terry Cook benefitted when more bad luck struck Jason Leffler, then held off Dennis Setzer in a two-lap shootout yesterday to win the NASCAR truck series race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Leffler, starting from the pole for the seventh time this season, again appeared on the threshold of his first Craftsman series victory when his Dodge crashed into the lapped truck of Tom Carey Jr. with 38 laps to go in the New England 200.

Cook, running second in his Ford, took the lead and was challenged only after a final caution came out when Brian Rose blew an engine, slipped in his own oil and hit the wall in Turn 4 with four laps to go. Setzer was able to drive to Cook's bumper on the final turn of the last lap, but couldn't make the pass, and Cook held on for his third win of the season.

“I knew we were real good on restarts and could out-drag-race them all day long,” Cook said. “The only thing was it took a long time to get going and I had to fight Dennis Setzer there at the end.”

But Leffler was out of it before the green flag waved for the final two laps, a continuation of his bad luck.

Three races ago in Milwaukee, he dominated and was beat by Cook on the green-white-checkered finish. Leffler had an oil-line break when he was running third at Darlington and finished 30th, and he holds the record for the most poles in a season without a victory.

Leffler, who has five poles in the past six races, led three times for 53 of the 200 laps and was upset that he didn't win. He finished 27th after driving below Carey, bumping into him, then spinning up the track and into the wall.

“I had no idea I was inside of him,” Leffler said. “I'm just disappointed because I had a great truck and have nothing to show for it once again.”

He does, however, have eight Top 10 finishes this season.

Setzer finished second and David Starr third in Chevrolets. Series points leader Ted Musgrave was fourth and Brendan Gaughan fifth in Dodges.

Setzer figured if would be a struggle to get around Cook.

“We knew we had the truck to do it, but the last lap coming off the corner, he was really protecting the bottom,” Setzer said. “We just couldn't get by him.”

Musgrave, who ran out of gas early in the race, rebounded to extend his lead in the points to 35 over Bliss. Musgrave complained about how lapped traffic made it a long day and probably caused him to run out fuel.

“You get in the middle of traffic like that and all you can do is push people out of the way,” he said. “But we fought hard all day long and came back after losing a lot of time when we ran out of fuel.”

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