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September 22, 1999
COOK LOOKS FORWARD TO RETURNING TO WEST PLAINS
WOODSTOCK, GA – Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC is looking forward to returning to West Plains, MO Motor Speedway this Friday and Saturday night for the $15,000-to-win United Dirt Track Racing Association 5th Annual Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series Supernationals 100.
Cook is the defending champion of the event, and in 34 Hav-A-Tampa starts in 1999; he is still looking for his HAT first victory of the season. “The Hav-A-Tampa Series is so competitive, when you win two races the previous year, it’s tough to come back and win four the next year,” Cook said. “Everybody had new chassis set ups at the beginning of the year, and it wasn’t until about the middle of the year that we caught up. We’ve been getting better the second half of the season.”
The driver of the Youngblood Concrete GRT/Mustang says West Plains Motor Speedway fits his driving style. “West Plains is a smooth and slick track, so tires and high-horsepower engines are out of the picture,” Cook said. “You just work on the car and drive it. With the way the track is, you don’t tear up a lot of stuff either. The track owners, Don and Billie Gibson, are great people, they make everyone feel welcome, and there’s always a great atmosphere at West Plains.”
Even though Cook has yet to visit the Hav-A-Tampa winner’s circle in 1999, his on-track performance has been good. Strong evidence of that is that he is eighth in the HAT point standings, and he leads the HAT Hard Charger point standings. Hard Charger points are awarded to drivers for the number of positions they improve from the start of each HAT race to the finish.
“Leading the Hard Charger points just shows we haven’t qualified very well this season,” Cook said with a chuckle. “But seriously, it shows that even if we haven’t qualified that well, we’ve kept diggin’. Winning the Hard Charger points pays money at the end of the season, and it is an award that you can put on your resume that means something to a potential sponsor.”
The 1999 HAT winners list is full of other drivers that have won HAT races in the past at West Plains Motor Speedway. Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR won two HAT events in 1997 on his way to the HAT Championship that season. The defending and three-time HAT Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN used two West Plains HAT wins in 1995 on the way to his second HAT title.
Other West Plains HAT winners are John Gill of Mitchell, IN and Rick Aukland of Fargo, ND in 1995, Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR in 1996 and Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN used a 1996 WPMS win to help him take the 1996 HAT Championship.
So far this season, Moyer and Bloomquist have five HAT victories apiece, Aukland has three HAT wins, Wallace has two HAT wins, and Smith picked up his first HAT win of 1999 last Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN. “Maybe Fred has started a trend,” Cook said. “At the start of the Bulls Gap race, Fred myself and Skip Arp were the only drivers in the top ten that had not won a Hav-A-Tampa race this season. Although, I wouldn’t mind Skip winning the next couple of races, and I get my win at the Hav-A-Tampa Shootout at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA. That race pays $52,000-to-win!”
In addition to what he wants to accomplish on the race track, Cook is also looking to accomplish something for some very special kids across the country. In addition to his paying sponsors, Cook’s Brownie and Sheryl Brown-owned race car also carries the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital lettering with a toll-free number for people to call to learn more about helping these kids.
“We don’t get, and wouldn’t even think about asking for a dime for putting that on our race car.” Cook said. “We’ve put that on the car with the toll-free number to make people aware of the Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals across the country, and we encourage people to call 1-800-237-5055 for information on what they can do to help.”
Friday night’s West Plains Motor Speedway action will open the 1999 Hav-A-Tampa Wild West Tour with HAT qualifying and the Borla Muffler Heat Races. The WPMS Hobby and Cruiser Divisions will also be in action. The pit gate opens at 1 p.m., with hot laps at 7:30 p.m., and Qualifying set for 8 p.m.
On Saturday night, the HAT program features the Pace American Trailers and Polaris ATVs Consolation Races, and the 5th Annual $15,000-to-win HAT Supernationals 100. The WPMS IMCA Modifieds and Super Stocks will also be in action. Hot laps are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Going into the HAT Wild West Tour, Wallace leads Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA by 93 points for the HAT Championship followed by Bloomquist, Steve Francis of Ashland, KY, and Smith. Sixth through tenth in the HAT points chase are Bill Frye of Greenbrier, AR, Rick Eckert of York, PA, Cook, Arp, and Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI.
The second race of the HAT Wild West Tour will be on Tuesday night at Joplin, MO 66 Speedway for the 66-lap $10,000-to-win 66 Showdown. The third and final event of the Wild West Tour will be on October 1-2 at Muskogee, OK Speedway with the 2nd Annual $20,000-to-win OctoberFast 100.
West Plains Motor Speedway is located six miles east of West Plains, MO on U.S. Highway 63. The race day information line is (417) 257-2112. Joplin 66 Speedway is located five miles west of U.S. Highway 71 on 7th Street.
The race day information line is (417) 782-0660. Muskogee Speedway is located east of U.S. Highway 69 on Okmulgee to B St., then south eight blocks. The race day information line is (918) 686-7223.