Martinsville, VA (June 12, 2007) - Terry Cook was a young, Midwestern late model stock car racer when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted with a series of exhibition races in 1994. To hear Cook tell is, he wasn't exactly bowled over by the...
Martinsville, VA (June 12, 2007) - Terry Cook was a young, Midwestern late model stock car racer when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted with a series of exhibition races in 1994. To hear Cook tell is, he wasn't exactly bowled over by the concept.
"When the Truck Series first came out, I was one of the biggest skeptics about it," said Cook (right), who will make his 250th career Truck Series start in the Michigan 200 this Saturday at Michigan Speedway. "I wondered what they were trying to do and thought it would never take off. Honestly, I thought it was a joke. Then I saw one of the first races in the old Winter Heat series, and I thought, 'Wow!, this is the real deal.' It had great side-by-side racing. To think that it's now more than a decade later and I am going to have my 250th career start in the Truck Series is pretty amazing to me."
Cook's NCTS career has not only had plenty of longevity, but it's also had more than it's share of success since the Sylvania, OH driver made his division debut in the 1996 Sears Auto Center 200 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, WI. Since then, the likeable Cook has notched six victories, eight pole positions and 92 Top-10 finishes.
Despite not winning at Michigan as of yet, Cook's record is still on the impressive side with five Top-10 efforts in seven NCTS events. Maybe even more impressive is the fact Cook has completed all 702 laps contested in the seven Truck Series events held at the two-mile Michigan oval.
"Michigan is a racetrack that drivers who enjoy racing side-by-side love to race at," said Cook, who started 12th and finished ninth in the most recent NCTS event at Michigan last June. "It drafts like Daytona and Talladega, and when you get to the corner, you can go wherever you want to race. You can race down on the apron, up against the wall, and anywhere in between. There's no out of bounds at Michigan. That's what makes it so much fun for me to race there."
Coming off a solid 12th-place finish in the most recent event on the Truck Series tour -- the Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend -- Cookand his No. 59 HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra team arefirmly focused on this weekend's event at Michigan, a track which is close to his heart and racing roots.
"Michigan is my favorite race track for several reasons," said Cook. "I grew up less than 45 minutes from the track. Our family used to camp out and I attended several NASCAR Winston Cup (now Nextel) races there in what I like to call the 'chrome bumper days' -- back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when you had guys like Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison and others leading the charge. They were the heroes of our sport and it was awesome to see them race around that track.
"I got my first opportunity to race at Michigan in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race there in 1999," Cook continued. "Given my family history there, that was and still is a big thrill for me. I've always been very competitive there, but I've never had the kind of results that I thought we deserved. The last two years, I thought I had a truck that could win the race, but we came up short in each event."
Cook hopes to continue his climb in the Truck Series standings when the green flag drops on this year's Michigan 200 this Saturday. After joining the HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra team during the off season, Cook suffered through a fiery crash in the season-opening event at Daytona and a sub-par performance the following week at California. Since then, he has climbed from 29th to 12th in the NCTS championship standings thanks to seven-straight solid performances - a streak he hopes to continue in his 250th start at Michigan this weekend.
"To have my 250th career Truck Series start at what I consider my true, hometown track -- Michigan Speedway - is a very big deal to me," said Cook "It's not something I set out to achieve. I never thought I'd compete in 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, and it's not a goal where I looked at the calendar and said 'I want to do that at Michigan.' It's just something that's worked out that way. To do both is more than I ever dreamed of."
Whatever the results at Michigan this weekend, Cook, who is also the 'iron man' of the Truck Series with 231 consecutive starts dating back to the first race of the 1998 season, thinks there's plenty more races in his future before he decides to hang up his helmet.
"I hope to be here for another 250 races," said Cook. "I feel like I haven't reached my prime yet as a driver and that I have a lot of racing ahead of me. To be affiliated with Jim Harris (with Cook at left) and the HT Motorsports Toyota Tundra team is one of the best opportunities I've had in racing and I think we have a bright future together. I'm proud to have competed in 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races and I'm equally excited about the next 250 races on the schedule."