Cobb wins Sunbelt Region championship

LAS VEGAS - Two full years away from competitive racing certainly didn't allow Dick Cobb to get rusty. The veteran Las Vegas driver, who leads the standings in the late-model division at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor ...

LAS VEGAS - Two full years away from competitive racing certainly didn't allow Dick Cobb to get rusty.

The veteran Las Vegas driver, who leads the standings in the late-model division at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, overcame a shaky start to the 2000 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series season and captured the NASCAR Sunbelt Region Championship and the $40,000 winner's check that goes along with it.

That's not a bad effort from a driver who had not competed regularly since 1997.

"I had been so busy with work that I just wasn't having time to work on the car," said Cobb, who has been racing since 1969. "We won the track title in 1997 and that was the goal this year. It wasn't until the middle of the season when NASCAR called and said I was leading the regional standings that I thought we might have a shot at it."

Cobb's record for the season is astounding. He won five races and finished in the top five in 16 of 18 features. Only once did he finish out of the top six and that came in the first race of the year.

"That first race almost killed me," Cobb said. "We were leading the race and got cut off by a lapped car and spun out. Then the same car caused us to be in another caution. If you're involved in two cautions, then you're out of the race, so we finished 25th."

Throughout most of the summer, Cobb battled with Chuck Trickle for both the track and regional points lead. But Trickle's luck started to turn sour as the dog days of August set in, and it became clear that Cobb was LVMS' best shot to join Mike Ray (1998) as the second Las Vegan to win a regional championship in the past three years.

But fate dealt Cobb a cruel blow on August 19. During a caution, Cobb was hit from behind while leading the race. The impact loosened sheet metal on the rear of the car, and Cobb was forced to pit to remove the loose piece. He fought back to sixth place, but he had lost valuable points in the race for the regional title.

Knowing he had to win twin 25-lap main events on Sept. 2 and a 40-lap feature on Sept. 9, Cobb and his crew went to work.

"We made some changes on the car, and I probably drove harder than I ever have," Cobb said. "It probably makes it much more gratifying to win it the way we did. And there's no question that having to beat 25 other cars each week made a huge difference."

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Series NASCAR