May 3, 2011

The first half-decade of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition at Kansas Speedway was characterized by two things, capacity crowds and a plethora of winners.

Entering the July weekend, no driver had claimed two victories at the Kansas City, Kan. facility. 2002 winner, Mike Bliss and 2005 winner, Todd Bodine were the only two drivers who could become the first multiple winner. Series newcomers Aric Almirola, Erin Crocker, Marcos Ambrose and Erik Darnell, however, would do their best to foil these plans.

Bodine’s efforts were quickly hindered when he was disallowed to qualify after failing an inspection, forcing him to start at the rear of the pack. The front row consisted of veterans Mike Skinner and Rick Crawford.

Ambrose quickly showed Skinner and Crawford that he would not be silenced, taking the lead on lap one. Skinner though would fight back and be in contention nearly all day, leading a race high, 59 laps.

A lap 127 caution brought Skinner, Crawford, Ambrose and much of the field to pit road for tires and fuel, readying for the final run. Terry Cook, who pitted out of sequence on lap 18, would stay out and inherit the lead with just 40 laps remaining. That is exactly where the 38-year-old would stay, finishing just over two seconds ahead of Crawford.

Cook’s victory broke a 94-race winless streak dating back to 2002 and would be the sixth of his career.

“Man, this is huge,” said Cook post-race. “The competition level has gotten so tough in the truck series and we’ve been so good on the mile-and-a-half tracks, and to finally put it all together is huge.”

The rest of the top five included Ambrose, who made a late race charge, Brendan Gaughan and Skinner. The race tied a series record for most finishers - 35 of the 36-truck field completed the event. The same feat was accomplished earlier in 2006 at Dover.

Bodine, winner of three races in 2006, claimed his first series championship driving for Germain Racing. Roush-Fenway Racing’s Erik Darnell would receive the rookie of the year title. Cook, who’s only win of the season would be at Kansas, finished eighth in series points.