Stewart, Cook team at Turkey Night GP

IRWINDALE, CA (November 27, 2000) - Tony Stewart and Terry Cook were on opposite paths throughout the 2000 NASCAR season, but in the 60th-Annual Home Depot Turkey Night Grand Prix, the pair were on a fast track to Victory Lane. With ...

IRWINDALE, CA (November 27, 2000) - Tony Stewart and Terry Cook were on opposite paths throughout the 2000 NASCAR season, but in the 60th-Annual Home Depot Turkey Night Grand Prix, the pair were on a fast track to Victory Lane. With Stewart handling the driving chores and Cook calling the shots as car chief, the NASCAR aces teamed up to win the prestigious United States Auto Club (USAC) midget auto race Thanksgiving evening at Irwindale Speedway. For Stewart, winner of six NASCAR Winston Cup races this season, the victory was his first ever in the midget classic. For Cook, the visit to Victory Lane was a pleasant one, no matter what the division. "After the kind of season I had, going to Victory Lane was a real treat no matter what kind of car or division it was," said Cook, who finished 14th in the final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings this year. "Tony did a great job getting by Kasey Kane in the late stages of the race to get us this win. I'm as excited about Tony winning as I would be as if I had been in the driver's seat." Stewart and Cook hooked up for the big USAC event through mutual friend and car owner Steve Lewis. In the past, both drivers have piloted Lewis' potent midget entries. "Steve fields the best cars and when he asked if I could help him out with Tony, I jumped at it," said Cook. "I knew Tony would be really stout in Steve's car and would have a great chance of winning. Heck, he nearly won this race last year. If Tony was going to win his first Turkey Night Grand Prix, I wanted to be a part of that." After finishing fourth in the first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Daytona International Speedway last February, Cook thought he was going to be a part of something special as the driver of the No. 88 PickupTruck.com Chevrolet Silverado. Unfortunately for the Sylvania, OH driver, the 2000 NCTS season proved to be one of unfulfilled promise as mechanical failures and bad luck plagued the team all year. "I sure didn't have the kind of year Tony did," said Cook. "I would have killed to win a race much less six of them. We always seemed to have a fast truck, but something would happen and we'd wind up falling out. It got pretty frustrating, that's for sure." Cook's frustration came to a head after an engine failure in the next to last Truck race of the season at Texas. His four-year stint with Sealmaster Racing had produced just one win (Flemington, NJ 1998) and Cook knew he needed to be moving on. "It was time," Cook stated. "I had a great run with those guys, but it was time to try something else. It was risky leaving because I didn't have anything else lined up. Bob, Ron and Kay Keselowski gave me an opportunity to drive their truck for the final race of the year at California and we had a great seventh-place run there. Now we're hoping to put something together for next season. All we need is the right kind of sponsorship package. The Keselowski's have had the most successful Dodge program over the last three years finishing third in the points in 1999. There's no doubt we can do that again in 2001. We just need the funding to make it happen." Cook, however, wasn't thinking about sponsorship or the 2001 NCTS campaign Thanksgiving evening when Stewart beat Kane, the 20-year-old 2000 season USAC National Midget Champion, to the finish stripe by three car lengths. "I was thinking about how lucky I am to be doing this," said Cook, who would like to drive for the Keselowski's in 2001 but is still unsigned. "Working with Tony was great. He encouraged me a lot, told me to hang in there and I'd make it. With things still a little unsettled for next season, that meant a lot. So did winning the race. There's nothing like winning and being able to do that with Tony meant a lot to me. It's the kind of thing that can carry you through the winter testing and have you really pumped up when they get ready to throw the green flag at Daytona next February."

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Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck , USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Terry Cook