Cooke leads all 40 laps for Tri-County victory
BRASSTOWN, N.C. (July 4) — Polesitter Jeff Cooke of Spartanburg, S.C., led all the way at Tri-County Racetrack for a 40-lap O'Reilly Southern All Star East Series victory worth $4,000. Fourth-starting Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., chased Cooke most the race and settled for second.
"We probably had a little too much motor for the track," said Cooke, who returned to a Kelly Hamrick-owned car for the victory. "I knew if we could just get the lead on the start that we could probably win the race. And thats what we did. I saw Casey down there a few times but I was just letting the car roll in and then picking it up off the corners.
Third-starting Jamie Oliver of nearby Murphy was the top-finishing home-state driver in third while front-row starter Ethan Hunter of Tiger, Ga., and sixth-starting Danny Ledford of Warne, N.C., rounded out the top five.
Among the race stoppages was a lap-four red flag for Dusty Chitwood of Hiram, Ga., whose car end-over-end after tangling with Joey McCoy on the frontstretch. The machine landed on all four wheels just past the start-finish line. After a few tense moments, Chitwood emerged from the battered car uninjured, but his first series start was quickly over.
Notes: Cooke's Bloomquist Race Car has a Cornett engine and sponsorship from Hamrick's of Gaffney, Big A's Custom Graphics and Hoosier Race Tires. ... Zach Cox started 23rd and came up to finish 13th. ... David McCoy had a lap-four flat tire. ... The event was the first SAS East event at Tri-County and first visit by any Southern All Star-associated series since Jay Brinkley won Aug. 5, 2001 in Brasstown. ... The series takes a break until heading to South Carolina for the July 31-Aug. 1 weekend with events at Modoc Speedway and Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney.
O'Reilly SAS East @ Tri-County: (1) Jeff Cooke, (2) Casey Roberts, (3) Jamie Oliver, (4) Ethan Hunter, (5) Danny Ledford, (6) Colby Cannon, (7) Russell Thomas, (8) Tony Knowles, (9) David Payne, (10) Randy Nichols, (11) Kip Cochran, (12) Rodney Weeks, (13) Zach Cox, (14) Monk Gulledge, (15) Larry Blankenship, (16) David McCoy, (17) Shawn Chastain, (18) Roger Lankford, (19) Bruce Taylor, (20) Ronald Blankenship, (21) Dusty Chitwood, (22) Joey McCoy, (23) Glenn Barnett, (24) Gabe Wilson. Fast qualifier (among 26 cars): Cooke, 13.487 seconds. Consolation race winners: Taylor, Knowles. Provisional starters: Cox, R. Blankenship.