MEMPHIS, TN (June 14, 2001) - After being dealt a bad hand in last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park, Terry Cook and his No. 29 K-Automotive Ford hope to hit the jackpot in this time around in the Memphis...
MEMPHIS, TN (June 14, 2001) - After being dealt a bad hand in last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park, Terry Cook and his No. 29 K-Automotive Ford hope to hit the jackpot in this time around in the Memphis 200.
"We struggled in practice never getting a good grip on the track last year," said Cook. "We finally stumbled upon something before qualifying and we were able to start fourth for the 200-Lap event. We were racing well until we were tapped from behind by another truck early in the race. The truck did a 360-degree spin causing us to lose several positions. Heading into Turn 1 on the restart, a bunch of trucks checked up in front of me. I ran into the back of someone knocking the radiator out of my truck. We didn't realize that we had lost all of the water in the cooling system until it was too late after we burned the motor up."
The string of bad luck resulted in a 31st-place finish, a far cry from the eighth-place effort Cook produced in the 1998 event. In 1999, Cook also struggled at Memphis starting 23rd and eventually finishing 13th.
This year, Cook hopes to return to the 1998 form behind the wheel of the No. 29 K-Automotive Ford. Fielded by Bob, Ron and Kay Keselowski, the team has produced an early-season run of Top-10 finishes that have Cook in fifth place and in the thick of the NCTS championship battle.
The combination of solid finishes and a near miss win in the most recent NCTS event at Texas Motor Speedway has Cook excited about the possibilities of another shot at Victory Lane at Memphis.
"I have learned so much from the Keselowski's," said Cook, who joined the longtime NASCAR family team just prior to the final NCTS race of last season at California Speedway. "I feel really good about this race at Memphis because they have finished in the Top-5 there the past two years with Dennis Setzer behind the wheel. I have already scored as many Top-10's this season as I did all last year. The Keselowski's are more than just my team owners to me - they are mentors. Bob serves as my crew chief, Kay as my spotter and Ron provides input to Bob throughout the race. In my opinion, we have the best team in the garage area.
"We had a legitimate shot at winning the Texas race," Cook continued. "We led a lot of laps and were third and charging back to the front late in the race. Unfortunately, we were one of the teams to run out of gas a couple of laps from the checkered flag and we finished 13th. That's tough to take knowing that you had a truck capable of winning the race only to finish 13th."
Cook knows he has the resources to win at Memphis this year. Now all he needs to do is negotiate the tricky .75-mile Bluff City oval without incident for 200 laps.
"The key to getting around Memphis Motorsports Park fast is to work on your suspension packages," said Cook. "There's a dip in the pavement when you are going downhill entering Turn 1. After you drive off the corner, you have to stay close to the bottom coming off the corners to accelerate off of Turn 2. Then you drive up a slight hill before heading down the backstretch that's fairly straight. It's back downhill into Turn 3. The track tightens up on Turn 4 coming up to the front-stretch. It's tough. We are fighting the bump in Turn 1 and we are trying to get the truck to turn freely off of Turn 4. If you can get your truck in and out of those corners fast you'll have some good laps at Memphis."
Cook and the rest of his K-Automotive team will take the green flag in the Memphis 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Saturday, June 23. The 10th of 24 NCTS events this season will be telecast live on ESPN and will be broadcast live by MRN Radio.
Other Notes of Interest:
The Memphis NCTS race will also provide the backdrop for the Team Keselowski Fan Club dinner, Friday, July 22. Cook and his wife, Amy-East Cook, an ESPN pit reporter for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, will join fan club members from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Rum Boogie Cafe located on the world-famous Beale Street in Memphis. Also on hand will be Brian and Brad Keselowski, aspiring Late Model Stock Car drivers and members of the K-Automotive Racing Team.