HOGANSBURG, NY — official release — When confidence is high good things happen. That was the case on Friday night for Antwerp, N.Y., driver Jeff Cook at the Mohawk International Raceway. Cook used a mid-race restart to drive to victory in the 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint feature (ESS). The win was worth $1,625 as part of the SUNY Canton Series, Le Groupe Ultra Tour of Canada and the E&V Energy Tour of the States.
“This feels real good,” said Cook. “I got so many people to thank. I got to thank the crew, Jimmy Brown, he put the Ford powerplant under here. Also Dickie Meyers, Meyers helped sponsor me to get the Ford. She’s always been fast. It just needed a tacky track to hook up to.”
Michael Parent and Cook led the field to the green-flag with Parent getting the lead. Parent, who’s run a limited schedule after returning from injury, was strong in the early going in his family owned No. 25. Cook lost ground early as Parent opened up a half-straightaway advantage.
By lap six Parent caught the tail-end of the field. He was extremely patient with the slower traffic allowing Cook to close the gap. Cook pulled up to Parent’s back bumper and began challenging him for the top position with eight laps in complete.
Cook continued to stalk Parent as they raced through traffic. Cook made multiple efforts to work below Parent as they exited the fourth corner. Each time those efforts were stymied by Parent as he held the preferred groove on the four-tenths mile facility.
Caution was displayed for the first time on lap 12 as Kevin Ward Jr., caught an implement tire on the bottom of the speedway collapsing his front end. He came to stop on the bottom of the front straightaway necessitating the yellow flag.
At the green, Parent stumbled allowing Cook to get the run off of turn four on the outside to get in front of Parent down the frontstretch to take over command of the event. Cook wasn’t the only driver to make a move on the restart as Matt Tanner, who had won his heat and the Beard Sewer and Drain/Cobra Coaches Dash event, moved into the second spot as Parent fell back to fourth.
“I was hoping we were going to get into lapped traffic there,” stated Cook. “I was hoping we were going to be able to get around him there. We passed him fair and square on the restart and I guess that is what it took.”
Cook opened the lead with his No. 10 driving away from Tanner until caution on lap 19 brought the field back to him. Patrick Vigneault lost an engine in his No. 55 causing him to slow and eventually stop on the back straightaway.
Earlier in the evening Cook had issues at the start of the dash which saw him give up the lead at the initial green. He was much more prepared for this restart as he got the jump on Tanner. Tanner attempted to go to the outside of turns one and two but Cook carried the momentum through the corner and maintained the advantage.
“I wasn’t going to let what happened in the dash happen again,” commented Cook. “I was ready to go.”
Although Tanner stayed with Cook as the laps clicked away he could never seriously challenge him for the victory. This allowed Cook to secure his 11th career series win tying him with Alain Bergeron on the all-time win list with the series.
Tanner was disappointed that he couldn’t get the clean sweep of the night. It was still the best finish of the 2014 season for the Stephentown, N.Y., pilot.
“We’ll definitely take it,” said Tanner. “We’ve been struggling a little bit this year. It feels good to build a little momentum going into our next race (full point show) at our home track (Lebanon Valley).”
On the last restart of the race Tanner gave Cook everything he had, but it wasn’t enough to get alongside Cook. He was able to get to his back bumper and nearly alongside. Ultimately he wasn’t able to pull off the pass.
“I thought I had Jeff (Cook) on the outside on that last restart,” he said. “I hooked a rut. It’s so hard to build your momentum back up when the track is this fast. We’ll definitely take second place any night.”
Etienne Girard, of St. Germain, Que., finished in the third position after the night started off poorly. Girard lost the power steering in hot laps causing him to slam the wall in the fourth turn. The team got him back on track and he finished in the third spot after starting fourth.
“It was a crazy night for us,” said Girard. “In practice we broke a power steering hose and I hit the wall hard. We got the backup car on track. My team worked so hard to get us back on track. My team worked so good. We are a new team in Sprint Cars and I’m really happy to finish in the third position.”
Early leader, Parent, finished in fourth after having his motor stumble on the restart with Paul Kinney holding off Steve Poirier in the closing laps to complete the top five. Filling out the top ten were Zach Weigand, Jason Barney, Paul Pekkonen and first year runner Yan Bilodeau.
ESS/Mohawk Notes – Making his first start of 2014 was Paul Pekkonen…Steve Poirier after winning his heat found problems under the hood and had to go to a back-up mount and start last in the A-Main…Shawn Donath also had engine woes and didn’t start the A-Main…Next up for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint Tour is a trip to the high banks of Lebanon Valley/
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Jeff Cook ($1,650), Matt Tanner, Etienne Girard, Michael Parent, Paul Kinney, Steve Poirier, Zach Weigand, Jason Barney, Paul Pekkonen, Yan Bilodeau, Patrick Vigneault, Lee Ladouceur, Tim Axton, Dave Axton, Kevin Ward Jr., DNS – Shawn Donath.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Tanner, Girard, Barney, Pekkonen, T. Axton, Donath
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Poirier, Kinney, Parent, D. Axton, Weigand.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Cook, Vigneault, Ward Jr., Ladouceur, Bilodeau
Beard Sewer and Drain/Cobra Coaches Dash – Tanner.
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Cook $100
Insinger Performance Fuels Hard Charger – Poirier (9 pos. $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Kinney $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Tanner, Poirier, Cook $25
Go Nuclear Late Models Go Fast Award – Parent (13.636) $25
Bitner Automotive Blistering Fast Time – Poirier (13.189) $25