Memphis track is like a roller coaster to Terry Cook

MEMPHIS, TN (May 5, 2000) - Week in and week out, Terry Cook gets plenty of thrills as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor. This weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park, he'll add an amusement park flavor to his ride in the ...

MEMPHIS, TN (May 5, 2000) - Week in and week out, Terry Cook gets plenty of thrills as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor. This weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park, he'll add an amusement park flavor to his ride in the #88 Chevrolet. "Driving at Memphis is like riding a roller coaster," said Cook of the tight, .750-mile Tennessee oval. "It has some whoop-de-doos on the back straight that are fun but they really get your attention. The paving is pretty wavy back there and you don't expect those to be there on a new track like Memphis. "Memphis also has tow very tight corners, so you really have to work on your shock package there. If you can get a good shock package to keep the truck free in the center of the corners, get over the whoop-de-doos on the back straight and, of course, miss the wrecks and keep the fenders on your truck, you'll have a pretty good day at Memphis." Last year, the tricky Memphis oval got the best of the Sylvania, OH driver before the green flag ever waved on the Memphis 200 NCTS event. "We had an optional test day last year where you came in a day early to get some extra track time," said Cook. "About three-quarters of the way through the day, we put the truck in the wall. It wasn't totally junk, but it needed a new front and rear clip. We sure weren't going to race it again that weekend. We rolled the back-up truck out of the transporter for the following day's practice and qualifying and no matter what we did, we just couldn't get the handling down on it. We struggled in time trials and didn't get our best lap in qualifying 23rd. "We changed a lot of stuff on the truck raceday morning and that made it a lot better. We weren't awesome, by no means did we have a killer truck, but we were able to avoid the attrition and soldier our way to a 13th-place finish. I have to commend the crew for getting the backup truck in race trim and come out of there with a solid Top-15 finish. They put in a lot of effort and it definitely paid off." According to Cook, it's not just the whoop-de-doos and the tight turns that pose a problem at Memphis. There's also a long, gently curved main straightaway that at first sight resembles the front straight at Richmond, VA. It is, however, a wolf in sheep's clothing waiting to devour any unsuspecting NCTS driver. "You'll see a lot of trucks slide almost sideways into Turn One at Memphis," said Cook. "That's because of the long, sweeping front straight there. The trucks are already turning before they get to the corner. You have the left side of the truck freed up and you're loading up the right side tires. When you try to turn down into the corner, it has a tendency to loosen the truck up on entry. That's an odd characteristic of the Memphis track. "Another is you come off Turn Four pretty slow and that makes for a lot of three- and four-wide racing down the front straight. Then it's a real land rush trying to get the preferred line into Turn One. That's why you seen plenty of wrecks heading into Turn One. As the race goes on, the track has a tendency to change and that means the preferred groove can be anywhere from the bottom to the top of the racetrack. It makes for some pretty good racing and the fans sure like it. We've packed the house the two times we've been there and I don't expect anything different this time around." One thing that Cook will change up this time is the type of truck he will race at Memphis. In an effort to get back to his 1998 form when he qualified sixth and finished eighth in the inaugural NCTS Memphis 200, Cook will be looking for a competitive edge with a different kind of chassis under his mount. "One of the things we're going to do differently this time is we're going to take a drop-snout truck to Memphis," said Cook. "It's one of best trucks we have and it has already scored an eighth-place finish for us this season at Homestead (FL). It's also qualified in the Top-10 every time out, so we think we will have a potential winner underneath us at Memphis." Cook went on to explain exactly what a drop-snout chassis is and what it does. "You can get a chassis in any increments from what they call a 'standard snout' to a 'drop snout'," explained Cook. "You can get them in half-inch, three-quarter inch, one-inch or an inch and a half drop. All that means is the upper and lower control arm pivot points are lower in the chassis. What that does is change the roll center characteristics of the truck and it is supposed to make the truck turn better in the center part of the corner. It's a little bit more aggressive chassis to make the truck turn better. You will usually run a drop snout at a track where you would be tight in the corners. For instance, a long, flat track would work with this kind of chassis. You have to remember these trucks have a 112-inch wheelbase, the longest wheelbase in any of NASCAR's three premiere series. When you combine that with 700 horsepower and a top-heavy truck, it's hard to make these things turn. That's why we do everything we can to make these trucks turn in the center of the corner. You can be down 20 or 30 horsepower, but if you can roll through the center of the corner, you'll just eat these guys up." Cook would like nothing better than to take a bite out of the competition when the green flag falls on this year's Quaker State 200 at MMP Saturday, May 13. "I'd definitely like to go back there and have the kind of success we had in 1998," said Cook of his Top-10 Memphis finish that year. "We think we have the ability to consistently run in the Top-10 and we've proven we can do that at Memphis. The key now will be to step it up a notch and get in the Top-5 or Victory Lane." The Quaker State 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park is the eighth race of the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season and will be televised live on ESPN at 3 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday. The event will also be broadcast worldwide on MRN radio.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Terry Cook