Beckley Motorsports Park
Cook outhustles Owens, captures Beckley debut
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
BECKLEY, W.Va. (July 1) — Making his first career start at Beckley Motorsports Park, Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., fought off Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., in the final 10 laps to capture the first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series visit to the 3/8-mile oval. Cook’s third series victory of the season paid $10,000 and moved him up to fourth in series points. | Video
Owens settled for second behind the flag--to-flag winner with fast qualifier Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., in third. Series points leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was fourth followed by Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga.
“I tell you, it was exciting where I was at for sure. I was just trying to hold him off,” the 38-year-old Cook said in victory lane. “I just want to thank the Lord. He’s blessed us again."
Cook and Owens dueled tightly late in the race but never touched.
“That’s just a credit to Jimmy,” Cook said. “There’s a reason why he wins all the races he does, and second in the points last year — probably going to win them this year — he’s good, everybody out here is, really.”
Richards and Cook started on the front row with Cook taking the lead at the outset over Richards, Bloomquist, Owens and Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky. McDowell took fifth from Wells on the sixth lap while Cook stretched his lead over Richards before entering heavy traffic after 10 laps.
Cook narrowly avoided a lap-13 disaster when the slower cars of Tim Isenberg and John Blankenship got hooked together in turn two in front of the leader. Cook deftly maneuvered to the inside of the track, avoiding the wreckage to keep moving and hold his spot.
After the restart, Cook pulled away from the Richards-Owens battle for second and was in control at the halfway point as Tim Dohm moved into the fifth spot. When Cook began lapping slower cars, his pursuers gained ground. Owens took the second spot from Richards down the backchute before a lap-38 caution for debris.
After another caution for Earl Pearson Jr. on lap 42, Owens turned up the heat on Cook and was all over the leader before the final yellow flag appeared for Dohm on lap 47.
The final three laps was dramatic with Owens repeatedly trying to overtake Cook. Cook held the slightest edge at the flagstand each lap and grabbed his ninth career series victory and eighth over the last 18 months.
Notes: Cook’s MasterSbilt is owned by Danny Dishman and Ronald Ivey and sponsored by Hicks and Ingle Company General Contracting, A+ Moving and Storage, PRC, Wyatt Builders and Integra Racing Shocks. ... Jimmy Owens is 115 points behind series leader Scott Bloomquist following his runner-up finish. ... Provisional starter Brad Neat rallied from 24th to finish eighth and earn PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger honors. ... After taking Friday off, the series runs Saturday at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, and Sunday at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park.
Lucas Oil @ Beckley: (1) Ray Cook, (2) Jimmy Owens, (3) Josh Richards, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Dale McDowell, (6) Eric Wells, (7) Kenny Compton Jr., (8) Brad Neat, (9) Eddie Carrier Jr., (10) Chris Wall, (11) Dan Schlieper, (12) Steve Casebolt, (13) Don O’Neal, (14) Tyler Reddick, (15) Chuck Harper, (16) Tim Dohm, (17) Earl Pearson Jr., (18) Zack Dohm, (19) John Blankenship, (20) Jeff Smith, (21) Tim Isenberg, (22) Rick Williams, (23) Josh McGuire, (24) Chris Meadows. Fast qualifier (among 28 cars): Richards, 13.496 seconds. Heat race winners: Richards, Bloomquist, Cook, Owens. Consolation winners: Wall, Z. Dohm. Provisional starters: Blankenship, Neat.