Off-week news of note 2005-04-18

* Terry Cook, ppc Racing going to the dogs at Gateway International Raceway * David Starr, Ricky Craven will guest on pair of pre-race teleconferences DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2005) -- Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by ...

* Terry Cook, ppc Racing going to the dogs at Gateway International Raceway

* David Starr, Ricky Craven will guest on pair of pre-race teleconferences

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2005) -- Terry Cook (No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford) has gone to the dogs -- literally.

Cook, one of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' most veteran competitors with five victories in 194 appearances since 1996, is a spokesperson for Paws With A Cause, a national non-profit agency that custom trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

The relationship results from Cook's personal affinity for man's best friend and that of his sponsor. Cook and his wife Amy East frequently take their twin Beagles Abby and Toby to the racetrack.

Power Stroke's research found that 75 percent of its owners either are dog owners or have an emotional tie to a canine companion.

Dogs raised in puppy foster homes undergo six months of training at PAWS' Wayland, Mich. headquarters learning to pull wheelchairs, pick up dropped objects, open doors and alert their partners to the sound of the doorbell, the phone ringing, a baby crying or a smoke alarm going off. Others can retrieve a phone or push a medic alert button to summon emergency care.

Cook and his team raise both funds and program awareness at each stop on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The next event at which the team's racing simulator and PAWS representatives will appear is the April 30 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway where Cook won in 2002.

"We raised more than $8,000 last year and we're looking to raise an additional $10,000 this year," said Cook. "It takes $18,000 to train and place each PAWS Assistance Dog with a client and we want to see first hand someone get to lead an independent life again."

Cook enjoys the relationship on several levels.

"The fans' responses are outpouring," he said. "I have a lucky ritual to rub the belly of one of these dogs before the race and so far it's been good for us with two top-10 finishes and a competitive truck early on in the first four races of the season."

Cook, who'll become just the third series driver to reach 200 starts on June 18 at Michigan International Speedway, stands 10th in points following a 10th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway earlier this month.

He's hoping to snap a 62-race winless streak that follows his most recent victory at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August 2002.

Over the years, Gateway has been good for Cook, who counts four top-10 finishes in his last five starts.

"The 2002 win was the most memorable, there's no doubt about it," he said. "It was my first time back in victory lane since 1998. It was a long dry spell between race wins."

Cook and others will have to revise their Gateway playbooks this season since NASCAR has mandated a gear ratio rule as a cost saving measure. No longer will drivers be able to go up and down through the gearbox to brake and maintain engine rpms -- a practice more associated with road racing than oval competition.

"We shifted for many years at Gateway, where you downshift into Turn 1 and upshift heading onto the backstretch and into turns three and four. Some drivers would shift four and five times a lap," said Cook.

"It will definitely be a whole different race this year," he said.

NEWS & NOTES, PART II

Two teleconferences to preview Gateway race ... David Starr (No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet), winner of last year's Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200, will be available to media members at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday. Starr prevailed in an unprecedented fourth green-white-checkered finish -- most in NASCAR history. Ricky Craven (No. 99 Super Chips Ford) will guest at the same time Tuesday, April 26. The teleconferences may be accessed by dialing (800) 289-0572 (Starr) and (800) 965-7144 (Craven).

ETC. ... According to Nielsen Media Research, average viewership for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway was 878,000, up 50 percent over 2004's 586,000. Average viewership for the 2005 season is up 29 percent from a year ago. ... The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers group's backing of the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway is the second longest event entitlement sponsorship on the series. This year's race is the organization's eighth, second only in longevity to Chevrolet's ties to Phoenix International Raceway dating to 1995. ... Martinsville Speedway, with the April 9 Kroger 250, became the fifth series facility -- and only short track -- to pay out more than $4 million in prize money and awards. Texas Motor Speedway will reach the $7 million mark on June 10. ... Drivers will complete their 5,000th mile of competition when the series returns to Martinsville in October. ... Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) will drive a Bill Davis Racing Dodge in the May 1 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. ... Dover International Speedway's June 3 event has been rechristened the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 200. The race will be the 250th in series history.

10 YEARS TOUGH

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Ken Schrader's (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) only NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory. Schrader won on April 15, 1995 at the now-closed Saugus Speedway, a third-mile flat oval located 45 minutes northeast of Los Angeles. He was the first of 12 drivers to win on each of NASCAR's three national touring series. Among the 24 starting drivers were off-road racing legend Walker Evans and World of Outlaws star Sammy Swindell.

Fast Facts

Next Event: Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 (Race 5 of 25).

Where: Gateway International Raceway.
When: 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 30.

Track layout: 1.25 -mile paved speedway.
Race length: 160 laps/200 miles.

Posted awards: $572,830.

TV: SPEED Channel, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 winner: David Starr.
2004 polesitter: Jack Sprague.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice 9:15 a.m. -- 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. -- 12 noon. Qualifying 3:30 p.m. Trucks impounded after qualifying.

Top 10 drivers: 1. Bobby Hamilton 633. 2. Ricky Craven 614. 3. Ted Musgrave 606. 4. Ron Hornaday Jr. 587. 5. Jimmy Spencer 580. 6. Todd Bodine 532. 7. Matt Crafton 519. 8. Johnny Benson 513. 9. Jack Sprague 503. 10. Terry Cook 498.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , David Starr , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Terry Cook , Matt Crafton , Sammy Swindell
Teams Bill Davis Racing