Crawford comes up big in frantic finish

Updated: September 25, 2005, 12:40 AM ET
Associated Press

LOUDON, N.H. -- Rick Crawford fought off series points leaders Dennis Setzer and Ted Musgrave to win Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway.

The win in the Sylvania 200 was the fourth for Crawford and his first since April 2004 in Martinsville, Va. To get it, the driver from Mobile, Ala., had to outrun the two strongest drivers in the series over the last 30 laps.

"What a great race among the veterans out there," Crawford said. "I needed to run my line and make sure Musgrave and Setzer battled it out. They did and I won."

The ninth caution flag of the day gave Setzer and Musgrave one last shot at the leader, but Crawford was able to hold the two challengers off after the green flag waved with five laps to go in the 200-lap event.

Musgrave fell out of contention when he bobbled while trying to get past Setzer for second place on lap 199, and Crawford was able to pull away from Setzer to win by 0.221-seconds -- about four truck-lengths -- in the race that featured 17 lead changes among eight drivers.

Setzer appeared on the way to his fifth victory of the season, building a lead of more than 2 seconds before a caution flag on lap 169 bunched the leaders for a restart on lap 173.

Crawford took the top spot from Setzer on lap 176. Setzer managed to retake the top spot on lap 185, but Crawford got back into the lead on the next lap and stayed there the rest of the way.

The runner-up performance was a good turnaround for Setzer, who had built a lead of 227 points after winning at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Aug. 5. He saw his margin shrink to 49 points over Musgrave heading into Saturday's event on the 1.058-mile New Hampshire oval. But Saturday's result put Setzer back up by 59 points with six races remaining.

"We were all evenly matched and it was just who got a little edge was going to win it," Setzer said. "We'd been having some bad lucky lately and Ted and I both know we need to work had to stay ahead of the cats behind us. They're just waiting for us to make a mistake."

"Dennis and I and Crawford had a heck of a race," Musgrave said. "One minute, I thought Dennis was going to win. Then I thought Crawford was going to win. Then I thought maybe I could win it. It was fun.

"With six races to go, things can happen. If we stay right there and gain a little here and there, we'll be OK."

Third-place Ron Hornaday Jr. wound up fifth in the race, but slipped to 203 points behind, 30 ahead of fourth-place Jimmy Spencer, who finished sixth on Saturday.

Spencer spun out twice early in the race and wound up spinning out Todd Bodine in a battle for fourth-place on the final lap. There was some pushing, shoving and shouting around Spencer after he got out of his car, but NASCAR officials quickly defused the situation.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE