Cook heats up for Volunteer
Speedway ‘Spring Thaw’ victory
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (March 6) — With race fans around the East Tennessee region suffering from Cabin Fever following a long, cold and snowy winter … a huge crowd turned out Saturday as Volunteer Speedway kicked off its 37th season of exciting dirt racing.
Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., turned up the heat and melted a stellar field to earn $12,000 for winning the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series “Spring Thaw 60,” his first-ever victory at the high-banked speedplant.
“It’s great to finally get our first-ever win here at Volunteer Speedway,” said Cook with a smile on his face in victory lane. “I’ve been coming here for many years now, and I’ve had some good runs but for some reason had never been able to win a race. This is a fast place, and I’ve always liked running here. You’ve really got to get up on the wheel and hustle the car around these high banks.”
Cook, starting fifth, methodically picked off competitors in front of him one-by-one before finally overtaking outside front-row starter Chris Madden on lap 36 for a lead he would never relinquish. The victory for Cook marks his second consecutive Super Late Model special event victory, as he also won the Southern Regional Racing Series-sanctioned $10,000-to-win “Bama Bash” last weekend at Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Ala.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., set fast-time at 12.522 seconds over the 43 cars entered in Red Buck Cigars qualifying.
Winning the four respective heat races were Skip Arp of Georgetown, Tenn.; Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind.; Madden, from Gaffney, S.C.; and Stacy Boles of Clinton, Tenn. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; and Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., each recorded B-main wins.
Madden sprinted out to the early lead over Arp and Casebolt and quickly opened up a three-car length advantage over Arp, who was running his first event of the season. The battle for third was intense with Casebolt holding off advances from Cook.
Madden started to close on the tail-end of the field by lap 11, allowing the trailing cars of Arp, Casebolt, Cook and Dan Schlieper to close ground on him. The race for first was heating up as Cook went by Casebolt for third on lap 17 and then he tracked down Arp a lap later, going side-by-side with the veteran before making pass to move into runner-up position on lap 19.
The event’s first caution waved on lap 20 as Mike Marlar came to a halt on the front straightaway with a flat right-front tire following contact with the slower car of Michael Walker, who had used a series emergency provisional to start the race in the 25th spot.
Madden led Cook, Arp, Casebolt and Schlieper on the restart. Only a couple circuits were completed before John Blankenship slowed high in turn two on lap 22, bringing out the caution for the second time.
Madden had Cook glued to his rear bumper going back green, and once the field was back up to speed Cook kept pressure on Madden. Once the lead duo closed on cars running at rear of field, Cook began looking high-and-low attempting to get around Madden. With the race reaching halfway, the top seven cars were all on the same straightaway.
Cook dove low in the corners and took a peek at Madden several times before pulling the trigger and shooting past for lead racing off turn two on lap 36. With Cook showing the way out front, Madden remained within striking distance as they worked lapped traffic. Cook changed his lines several times in closing the door on Madden as the duo fought a spirited and clean race for the lead. Madden tried the high line on the track in an attempt to overhaul Cook.
With only 10 laps remaining, Madden gave it his best effort down the final stretch to get around Cook. But Cook continually slammed the door on Madden to capture his sixth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory and his first ever at Bulls Gap. The win also moved Cook into a first-place tie in the Lucas Oil championship points standings with reigning series champion Scott Bloomquist, who finished sixth.
“Racing here at ‘The Gap’ is kind of like a homecoming for both this race team and myself,” Cook said. “My car owners Danny Dishman and Ronald Ivey live here in East Tennessee. Also, track owners Joe and Phyllis Loven have held races for the last few years with my Southern Nationals mid-summer touring series. Plus, another of my supporters, John King from Fairway Ford, he’s from just up the road in Kingsport.
“I need to thank Tader Masters from MasterSbilt Race Cars for providing me with such a great race car. We had a good car tonight, and really it got better on the long runs. We’ve got an awesome race team and everything is clicking just right for us. We had a strong campaign last year with 12 overall wins. We’ve now won two straight races and you’ve just got to enjoy it while you can, because in this business you’ll have streaks where you’ll run good for a while and then you’ll kind of struggle a little. You definitely don’t take winning for granted. Running this Lucas Oil deal you’re racing very tough racers at every event.”
Cook’s first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season came aboard the Hicks & Ingle Co. General Contracting, Performance Rod & Custom, PPM Racing Products, A+ Moving & Storage, Wyatt Builders, Fairway Ford, B&M Concrete, American Racer Tires, Integra Racing Shocks, VP Racing Fuels, K&N Filters, Real Racing Wheels, Stealth Racing Carburetors, Peterson Fluid Systems, Sweet Mfg., Wilwood Disc Brake, MSD Ignition, Scott Performance Wire, Bert Transmission, Brodix Heads, Wiles Driveshafts, Demon Carburetion, Star Grafix, Delph Communications, Schaeffer’s Racing Oil, Frankland Racing Supply, TurboStart Batteries, Race Engine Design, MasterSbilt Race Cars, D&R Motorsports, No. 53 Impala SS.
Chasing Cook to the checkers were Madden, Arp, Schlieper and Casebolt.
Rounding out the top ten were Bloomquist, Owens, Boles, Dale McDowell and Eric Wells.
Jerry Broyles, the defending Pro (Crate) Late Model track champion, jumped into the lead over Shanon Buckingham of Morristown at the drop of the green in the 25-lap feature and led the first 14 laps before tangling with the slower lapped cars of Heath Alvery and Mac McCarter racing off the fourth turn and spun to bring the caution out.
With Buckingham moving to the point, over the remaining distance he easily recorded the feature win over David Watts, Broyles (who charged back up through the field from the rear following his spin), Ricky Moore and Greg Roberson.
The next events at Volunteer Speedway will be on Friday and Saturday, March 19-20 … when the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series makes its second-ever appearance at the track for “Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap presented by Budweiser,” co-promoted by the World Racing Group and NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.
LUCAS OIL LATE MODEL DIRT SERIES – VOLUNTEER SPEEDWAY – $12,000-TO-WIN “SPRING THAW 60” – MARCH 6, 2010
Showing Finish Position, Starting Position In Parentheses, Driver Name, Car Number, Hometown, Money Won
1. (5) Ray Cook #53-Brasstown, NC $12,000
WILES DRIVESHAFTS FIRST HEAT (10 Laps - Top 4 Transfer): Skip Arp #31, Ray
Cook #53, Dale McDowell #17m, Chris Wall #71w, Clint Smith #44s, Brad Neat #41,
Bub McCool #57j, Tim Rivers #46, Eric Jacobsen #5, Dennis Erb Jr. #28, David
AFCO RACING PRODUCTS SECOND HEAT (10 Laps - Top 4 Transfer): Steve Casebolt
#c9, Will Vaught #1, Randy Weaver #116, Rick Rogers #44r, Tyler Reddick #11t,
Shanon Buckingham #50, Shon Flanary #98, Jason Feger #25f, Tim Isenberg #9t,
Michael Walker #64
ALLSTAR PERFORMANCE THIRD HEAT (10 Laps - Top 4 Transfer): Chris Madden #44m, Dan Schlieper #s9, Scott Bloomquist #0, Jimmy Owens #20, Mike Marlar #157, Kerry Jones #6, Don O’Neal #71, Steve Smith #3, Justin Rattliff #16, Michael Smith #4s, Mark Douglas #52d
WRISCO ALUMINUM FOURTH HEAT (10 Laps - Top 4 Transfer): Stacy Boles #11, Eric
Wells #18, Tommy Kerr #4T, John Blankenship #23, Earl Pearson Jr. #44, Mark
Vineyard #4v, Vic Hill #1h, Scott Sexton #25, Mike Collins #3c, Chad Ogle #10,
Jordan Bland #12
HAWK BRAKE FIRST B-MAIN (12 Laps - Top 3 Transfer): Clint Smith #44s, Brad
Neat #41, Bub McCool #57j, Tyler Reddick #11t, Shon Flanary #98, Tim Isenberg
#9t, Eric Jacobsen #5, Jason Feger #25f, Dennis Erb Jr. #28, Michael Walker #64,
Shanon Buckingham #50, Tim Rivers #46 – DNS, David Crabtree #c5 – DNS
PERFORMANCE ROD & CUSTOM (PRC) SECOND B-MAIN (12 Laps - Top 3 Transfer): Earl Pearson Jr. #44, Mike Marlar #157, Kerry Jones #6, Vic Hill #1h, Justin Rattliff #16, Mike Collins #3c, Chad Ogle #10, Mark Vineyard #4v, Mark Douglas #52d, Don O’Neal #71, Michael Smith #4s, Steve Smith #3, Scott Sexton #25, Jordan Bland #12 – DNS
PRO (CRATE) LATE MODEL (25 laps): 1) Shanon Buckingham #50; 2) David Watts #6; 3) Jerry Broyles #72; 4) Ricky Moore #75; 5) Greg Roberson #116; 6) Tim Byrd #24; 7) James Cole #5; 8) Forest Trent #4; 9) Mac McCarter #51; 10) Heath Alvey #7
Volunteer Speedway: (423) 235-5020 www.VolunteerSpeedway.com
Amanda Buckingham - Marketing & Sales Director: (423) 817-0925
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