Cozzolino Declared Winner Late Into The Night At Motor Mile by Jeremy Troiano
Thorn Takes The Win And The Pictures... But Gets It Taken Away Later
The best thing that happened to Peter Cozzolino on Saturday night at Motor Mile Speedway was seeing Travis Dassow win the pole position. Because once Dassow won the pole, he had to draw a number to set the invert for the event. Dassow drew a seven, putting Cozzolino on the pole. And the former ASA National Tour driver used it to his advantage, leading all 200-laps of the RADfest 200.
At least that is what the final results will show.
Derek Thorn (top, 51 photo) took the photos for Victory Lane the first time, but Peter Cozzolino (bottom,Chuck Gonzalez Photo) got the checkers much later.
On the track, Cozzolino’s #11 led 199.75 laps from the drop of the green flag. But he didn't lead when the checkers were being thrown. Instead, he was sitting crashed against the inside wall, along with innocent victim Michael Annett.
Derek Thorn was the one taking the checkers, leading just one quarter of a lap. Thorn got under Cozzolino in turns three and four coming to the checkered flag. Cozzolino said Thorn spun him. Thorn said Cozzolino came down. Whoever was right, Thorn got the checkers and Cozzolino found himself wrecked against the inside wall.
However, much later in the evening, after many cars had already packed up and headed home and after Victory Lane celebrations were already completed with Thorn in the pictures, ASA officials deemed the pass that Thorn made to apparently take the win and caused Cozzolino’s accident to be rough driving. Therefore, they awarded the win to Cozzolino. Thorn was moved back to 15th, the last car on the lead lap.
Speed51.com had already interviewed both drivers before the ruling was handed down. 51 is awaiting words from both drivers and ASA officials for more on the story and will have a follow-up later in the week.
This is how the events played out.
From the get go, Cozzolino had the car to beat. His white #11 couldn’t be touched after starting from the pole. While out front, Thorn was moving up from his sixth-place starting spot on a track that was tough to pass on.
Through 199 laps, no one had anything for Cozzolino. Even after the lap-100 halfway break, no one still had anything for the former ASA National Tour regular.
But a late caution that set up a green-white-checkered finish changed things.
Thorn, who had moved up to second with a car that looked just as fast, if not faster than Cozzolino’s on the short runs, looked to make his move.
As the two drivers got the white flag, Cozzolino slide a little high in turns one and two, allowing Thorn to make a move. Thorn then jumped on the inside of Cozzolino in turns three and four, with the two touching while coming to the checkers.
Thorn was able to gather his car up and get the win, while Cozzolino worked to save his car. Cozzolino spun across the track and into the path of Annett and both cars slammed into the inside wall. The rest of the field made it through.
It was a classic case of two different stories by two different drivers.
pick up his first-career ASA Late Model win. “If guys want to race like this, we will race like this back. We raced the last several races without touching another car. I don’t know. That is just how it goes I guess.
“It’s frustrating. This is something we all work for. We work to try and win races. We were a corner away from winning. I just got taken out. We were taken out by money. What do you do? You go back and fight again. We got taken out though. That is all there is to it.”
No matter who believes who was right and who was wrong, the final results from ASA will show Cozzolino first and Thorn 15th.
And Cozzolino knows that his starting spot had a lot to do with that.
“It was tough to pass here,” added Cozzolino. “In qualifying, we had a good second lap going, but I hit the apron and that cost us. We probably could have put a top-three up there. We should have qualified better than we did, but it worked out for us. We got to sit on the pole and that is all I needed.
“The car was good on long runs all weekend. When everyone was on old tires, we were always better than everyone.”
NOTES: ASA AT MOTOR MILE
Peter Cozzolino's #11 sits wrecked against the wall following the last-lap accident.
“It played into my favor when he overdrove turn one,” said Thorn. “I thought to myself ‘perfect.’ I got the thing to cut pretty good coming off. I didn’t quite get a nose under him coming off of two, but I just got a nose there going into three. I got under him and got to his door. He came down and got into me. I was on the apron. I gave him all the room I could. We didn’t touch until we were coming off of four. He got loose then and tried to save it. It looked like he jumped on the gas trying to get back up to me and he lost it and took the 12 out with him. That is a racing deal.
“I saw a hole and went for it. I never drove him aggressive before that. It’s kind of a bummer that it happened like that. I hate to see anyone crash like that. I’ve got total respect for him and I really like the guy.”
As anyone could understand, Cozzolino had a different mindset.
“We got left reared just like we did at I-70 (Speedway),” said Cozzolino, who will now
There were two #5s in the field... including Wes Burton (top) and Derek Thorn (bottom).
ASA: It’s A Numbers Game
With only 21 cars in the field at Motor Mile, you would think that coming up with a unique number wouldn’t be tough… especially when ASA allows for drivers to have cars with three numbers.
However, eight cars found themselves sharing numbers. There were two #5s, there were two cars with #15, there were two cars with #40 and two cars sharing the #12.
Former Point Leader Has Strong Run
After qualifying near the back of the pack, Colt James showed why, for a while this season, he was the man to beat in the ASA Challenge Series.
James qualified 19th (out of 21 cars), but was able to drive up to fourth at the finish of the event.
It was a dramatic improvement for James after such a bad qualifying effort that left him visibly frustrated.
“I was more than frustrated after qualifying,” said James. “That was probably the worst qualifying I’ve done in my whole life. I take this stuff really serious and it really frustrates me.
“I knew we had a good car in practice. It just took six or seven laps to get going. The car was hooked up after that. It had just been a rough past three races. We were leading the points and just had a crummy stretch of races. Hopefully, this will help that.”
Car Counts A Little Low
The car count at Motor Mile Speedway was a little low. Only 21 cars showed up to start the event.
In fact, the last several ASA Challenge Series events have drawn low car counts. Only 24 cars showed up for the race in Canada, then 22 cars showed up at Berlin. Before that, the previous two races drew over 30 cars each.
There were a couple of reasons people in the pit area thought for the low counts. Some thought the series was losing some rookies that wanted to try and keep their rookie status for the next season. Also, with the Bristol Motor Speedway event just two weeks away, some thought there were drivers saving their cars for that event.
Sean Murphy The Pinball
Sean Murphy said after Saturday night’s event that he felt like a pinball. And that is to be understood, as Murphy was twice spun out of the third position. Each time however, he was given his spot back and the offending party was penalized for the contact.
“Seems like they wanted to play pinball with me,” said Murphy, who finished third. “We were quick, but just not quick enough. We just tried to hold the bottom. That was the quickest way around here. They just wanted to move me out of the way. Both didn’t move me clean enough I suppose.”
Old ASA Still Alive In New ASA
The old ASA National Tour might not be around anymore, but it was clear to see that the spirit if the old ASA series is alive in the ASA Late Model Series.
Sean Murphy (#32) felt like a pinball at Motor Mile.
Walking around the pits, many old faces can be seen. Howie Lettow is still around, as crew chief for Travis Dassow. Greg Stewart still races, as does Peter Cozzolino. Deon Deneau and Butch Miller help Sean Murphy, while Glenn Allen Jr. and Ed Hock own a team together with driver Keeton Hanks. Joey Clanton and Jody Wilkerson help out the two-car team of John Wes Townley and Beau Slocumb. Former driver Chad Wood is now the crew chief for Charlie Menard, while former ASA Rookie of the Year and current NASCAR Nextel Cup star David Stremme owns the car driven by Bryan Clauson.
The Hard Working Man
ASA Late Model Challenge Series points leader Travis Dassow was by far the hardest working man at Motor Mile Speedway on Saturday night.
After earning the pole for the 200-lap event, Dassow’s second-straight pole (also his second-straight track record), Dassow drew a seven for the invert, putting him deep in the 21-car field on a track that proved to be just one groove.
Dassow made it up through the field once from his seventh-place staring position, then was forced to the back of the pack due to a penalty from officials for “rough driving.” Dassow came back from the penalty though, grabbing sixth at the end of the night.
“I think I was the hardest working man out there tonight,” said Dassow. “This was a single-groove track. Everyone told me going in there that this was a two-groove track. There was nothing out there. It was really greasy. I think it was because no one went out there. I think you were out on your own.
“It was a good night. We didn’t really gain anything, but lose nothing either tonight as far as points go. Coming back from 15th to sixth there over the last few laps on a track that you could hardly pass on wasn’t too bad. I’m proud of my guys for getting this car together and helping me get back up there into the top-10.”