Senator's race truck starts last, ends firstBy BILL ADAIR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 6, 2003
Bob Graham can only hope his presidential campaign does as well as his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team.
The No. 50 "Graham for President" truck started last but finished first Saturday in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 in Kansas City, Kan.
It was the first career win for driver Jon Wood, 21, who jumped on top of his truck after the race and thanked the Florida senator for sponsoring his team.
"It's really cool that we got a great sponsor for this race," he told the Speed Channel. "I can't say enough about Bob Graham."
Wood amazed the TV announcers because he started last due to an engine change and then roared past the other trucks to lead much of the race.
His strong performance provided the Graham campaign with lots of exposure before a national TV audience and about 85,000 fans in the stands, including many who drove from Iowa, home of the nation's first presidential vote.
The truck was painted with Graham's red, white and blue logo and said "Workday Bob Graham" on the back.
The truck series sponsorship is part of Graham's effort to appeal to the "Bubba" vote - people in rural areas who have often elected Republicans.
"We've got the beginning of a hell of a program to tell the NASCAR culture about our candidate," said David "Mudcat" Saunders, one of Graham's rural coordinators.
"Not only does Bubba like it when you race for him, he likes it even better when you win."
As for Graham, the senator said after the race, "We're just scoring victories all over - on the track, on the campaign trail. We've got big mo."
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