Home Win For Cozzolino
June 28, 2003 | 12:27 A.M. EST
Cozzolino in the A&A manufacturing/McDonald’s Chevrolet crashed heavily into the outside retaining wall at IRP during the first practice session of the day. The crew loaded up the car drove back to their Indianapolis based shop and changed engines, arriving back at the track after qualifications.
The team started 36th in the field based on season points and slowly started working his way to the front. Cozzolino pitted on lap 46 for the first time and then stopped for a second time on lap 125 with the rest of the leaders following a 75-lap green flag run.
By pitting out of sequence, Cozzolino was one pit stop up on the rest of the leaders and when Kevin Cywinski in the Great Clips Chevrolet made his second stop on lap 127, which gave the point to Rick Beebe.
On the restart Cozzolino drove inside of Beebe in the Structural Transport Ford on lap 145 entering Turn one.
The two drivers on the move were Mike Garvey, carrying new sponsorship from Jani-King and Butch Miller in the Timberwolf Chevrolet.
Garvey led 110 circuits from lap 18 through lap 127 when he pitted. After his second stop on lap 137 Garvey was running sixth and Miller was in fifth. The two veterans moved inside of Boris Jurkovic in the Phil Hines Racing Chevrolet on lap 178 going down the back straight for move into second and third.
Cozzolino built up more than a 3-second lead when the sixth and final caution waved on lap 192 which gave Garvey and Miller a final chance for victory. At the restart, Cozzolino opened a lead as Garvey and Miller got around lapped traffic and went on to win by 0.197 seconds over Garvey with Miller, Jurkovic and rookie points leader Reed Sorenson rounding out the top five.
“We just won an ASA race,” said an elated Cozzolino to his crew in victory lane after taking a Polish victory lap in honor of his late grandfather.
“We were hoping for a podium finish,” he said. “Even though we started at the tail we knew we had a good car. The team thrashed and worked together all day and we took the car to the front.”
Even though Garvey and Miller were closing on his rear bumper, Cozzolino said he was
driving conservatively over the final few laps.
“I wasn’t going to run into the corners hard unless I had to,” he said after collecting $15,645 of the $203,111 purse.
It was Cozzolino’s first win in 46 ASA starts and is the first time he has finished in the top five since finishing second to Jimmie Johnson for rookie of the year honors in 1998.
Garvey dominated the early stage of the race but was victimized by the long green flag segment and the need to make two pit stops.
“Pit stops killed us,” he said. “I didn’t expect to run 75 laps without a caution and then have to make two stops in the final laps.
“We lost six spots to fast cars making the second stop and I used the car up getting back to the front,” said Garvey. “I knew this race would be won by someone who pitted out of sequence.”
Miller said that Cozzolino “spanked” the field by pitting early in the race.
“We had great pit stops tonight,” he said. “The car was working on the bottom at the end. “We needed to have a caution in the middle stages of the race and then the long green run.”
Miller gained 19 points in the championship battle with Cywinski and now trails by 87 markers after nine of 17 races.
“We’re trying to come back and challenge Kevin,” he said.
Cywinski finished sixth.
Pole sitter Robbie Pyle in the Citgo Chevrolet led the first five laps when he was tapped by Miller on the back straight and spun into the inside retaining wall. The team made repairs but lost almost 40 laps in the pits and he finished 30th.