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Park accomplishes rare racing trifecta

David Coffin Pitstop

Last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opened its 2005 season in wild fashion with less than a dozen trucks still competing when the checkered flag finally fell.

Friday night, the trucks were at California Speedway in Fontana for the American Racing Wheels 200 -- 100 laps around the 2-mile Southern California Superspeedway. It took less than five laps for the first crash, but this time around, there were not the multi-truck melees and most made it to the finish.

Leading the way was Steve Park in the Orleans Dodge, which was a story in itself. In 2002, Park suffered a horrific crash in Busch Series competition, nearly ending his career. Prior to that, he had won in Busch and Cup competition. He came back to race a full season in the trucks last year, with a top finish of third.

With his truck victory, Park, 38, becomes the 10th competitor to win in all three of NASCAR's major divisions and the second driver in as many weeks to accomplish the feat. Tony Stewart became No. 9 last weekend when logged his first career Busch Series win.

It appeared Park would have to settle for second as he chased Mike Bliss until the latter slowed on lap 95, apparently out of gas.

"As long as I had clean air, I was good to go," Park said. "I felt sorry for Mike Bliss. We'd catch him and he'd pull away; we'd catch him and he'd pull away. To win a race in each of the series, I just want to thank NASCAR for the opportunity."

Bliss, a Cup regular, was actually subbing for Jack Sprague. Sprague started the race, but he had broken his left heel in a fall at home. When the caution came out for the first crash on lap five, Bliss took over for Sprague, who, because he had started the race, received any points Bliss earned and would have gotten credit for the win.

Bobby Hamilton, who won the opener at Daytona, finished second and Ricky Craven third. After two races, Hamilton is first in the standings by 25 points over Craven.

There were five former Craftsman Truck Series champions in the field Friday night -- defending champ Hamilton, Sprague, Bliss, Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday Jr. It should be a wild year.
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