Daytona 500: Terry Cook preview

Terry Cook No. 46 Whitney Motorsports Dodge Charger Preview: Daytona Mooresville, N.C. (February 1, 2010) -- After spending the past 14 seasons competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Terry Cook is making the leap to compete among the...

Terry Cook No. 46 Whitney Motorsports Dodge Charger Preview: Daytona

Mooresville, N.C. (February 1, 2010) -- After spending the past 14 seasons competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Terry Cook is making the leap to compete among the best drivers in the world in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting at Daytona International Speedway. Cook leaves the NCWTS a six-time winner along with the record for the most consecutive series starts, 296, which spanned the season-opening race of the 1998 season at Walt Disney World Speedway through the 24th race of the 2009 season at Phoenix International Raceway.

Cook isn't the only newcomer to the Sprint Cup Series on his team. Team owner Dusty Whitney is also making the leap to the NSCS after spending the past couple of seasons as an owner and sponsor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Although it is their first time collaborating on the racetrack, Cook and Whitney have similar racing backgrounds: both got their start in racing at Flat Rock and Toledo Speedway.

Cook started his career at the two legendary Midwestern short tracks in 1987, picking up numerous wins in the street stock division before making the jump to Late Models in 1989. Cook picked up the Late Model division championship at Flat Rock in 1989 and 1990, and followed it up with the 1992 title at Toledo Speedway. Cook also scored a track championship at Sandusky Speedway in 1995 before making the transition into the NCWTS in 1996. Whitney's late models, sponsored by his Dusty's Collision automotive repair centers, were a fixture at the two tracks throughout the 1990s, consistently running at the front of the pack and threatening for wins with driver Jimmy Thiel at the wheel.

Since Whitney Motorsports is a new team it is not locked into the Daytona 500 starting field based on 2009 NSCS owners points. For Cook to make his first Daytona 500 start he will be required to make the field based either upon his qualifying speed or by racing his way into the field through the Gatorade Duel. If he does so, he will follow in the footsteps of fellow Flat Rock Speedway graduate Benny Parsons. Parsons, the 1973 Sprint Cup Series champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner, started his driving career at the suburban Detroit quarter-mile while working as a cab driver in the Motor City.

Every stock car driver dreams of racing in the Daytona 500; how are you feeling personally about your first attempt at The Great American Race? "I am really excited. Growing up in Ohio the Indy 500 was always the big race for us as kids. Indy is still a huge event but it seems the Daytona 500 has surpassed it. To have the chance to race our way in and compete with the best drivers and teams in the world is an awesome opportunity. There is so much to do still -- and we've already done a lot just to get to this point. We're a small team so I've been wearing the general manager's hat as well as the driver's hat. There's been a lot of long days and nights and there's going to be a lot more between now and the time we get down to Daytona. I probably won't be able to take a breath and recharge until the trailer leaves for Daytona."

It's been 14 years since you wore the yellow rookie stripe; what's your comfort level heading to Daytona as a rookie? "The comfort level in the racecar doesn't go away because you're changing series. Inside the car, whether it's a Truck or a Cup car, you have that same level of comfort. And as a driver, I've been to every track on the Cup schedule either to race or for a test. I've seen them all and I know where all the good restaurants are and I know where all the restrooms are. There is a level of comfort there that will make the transition a little easier. What will take some time is getting used to the way the car drives versus the truck. The Cup car has a third more power and a third less downforce than what I've been used to. It's a matter of understanding what it takes to get the cars around the track and not overdrive it. I'll shorten that learning curve the best I can by going and talking to some of the veterans. You better believe that if I have a question I'll go talk to Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart."

What kind of pressure are you feeling to qualify? "We have good cars that we bought from Richard Petty Motorsports. The car we are going to race is the car A.J. Allmendinger drove at Talladega last fall. We think the Dodge package will race very well. We've talked to the people at Evernham Engines and we have a lot of power. We might not qualify very strong, but they say we'll have plenty of power in the qualifying race. We're expecting a hot, slick racetrack for Thursday's qualifying races. As a team we'll have to put together one solid pit stop and as a driver I need to run 60 good, clean laps."

Does your experience in the Truck Series races help you prepare for the short qualifying races on Thursday? "I sure hope it is. The Truck races are just 100 laps, 250 miles. That's half the distance of the Daytona 500. Your mindset for that race is every position and every lap counts. You need to know who you can draft with and who you can't. You need to figure that out in a hurry because you don't have 200 laps to get it done. You want to know who the competition is and how you can beat them, and the only way to do that is to get up there and mix it up. The qualifying races are just like a short B-main at your local short track. You don't have a lot of time to make the A-main so you get up on the wheel and try to get to the front."

Terry Cook at Daytona: Cook has ten career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Daytona. He's scored three top-five finishes (fourth in 2000, fifth in 2004, third in 2009), seven top-ten finishes, and one pole (2004). He's also led 45 laps in six of his ten starts. In January testing for the inaugural NCWTS race at Daytona in 2000 Cook was one of a handful of drivers to unofficially turn laps in excess of 200 miles per hour in the draft, forcing NASCAR officials to take measures to slow the trucks down upon their return for the race in February.

-source: whitney motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Terry Cook , Richard Petty , A.J. Allmendinger , Benny Parsons
Teams Richard Petty Motorsports