St. Louis Terry Cook preview

ST. LOUIS, MO (April 28, 2000) - Every track that Terry Cook and the PickupTruck.com team heads to on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour poses specific challenges. At Gateway International Raceway, the next track on the 2000 tour, Cook...

ST. LOUIS, MO (April 28, 2000) - Every track that Terry Cook and the PickupTruck.com team heads to on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour poses specific challenges. At Gateway International Raceway, the next track on the 2000 tour, Cook says sheer horsepower is the first ingredient needed for a top finish. "You have to have a real good, smoking piece under the hood if you expect to do well at Gateway," said Cook. "You also have to have a good braking system because you'd be surprised how much brake you use at this place. Turns 1-2 are real tight and you get on the brakes pretty hard there. You roll through Turns 3-4 a little freer. The low groove is the quick way around and a good engine to get you into the corners there is king." While going fast in a straight line might be the first priority for Cook, the bottom line is he still has to turn left at the end of the long straights on the unique 1.25-mile Gateway oval. According to Cook, that's where it really gets tricky. "Because the two ends of the track are so different, you have to try to find a neutral point between the two," said Cook, who is currently 10th in the NCTS season point standings. "We do the same thing when we go road course racing. We try to find the fastest corner or the longest straight away and you try to make the vehicle propel itself either one of those. You kind of give up on the slow corner because you figure everyone is going to tiptoe through those anyway. We concentrate on getting into Turn 3 and off of Turn 4 down the main straight. If we can be pretty fast at that part of the track, you usually can do well at Gateway." Cook's road course analogy is a good one considering many of the teams race Gateway with a truck outfitted with a special transmission that allows the driver to shift each lap. Cook, however, prefers to put his truck in high gear and in racing terms, 'let her eat'. "We've tried shifting going down the long straights, but for some reason it doesn't seem to work of us," stated Cook, who carries Transmission Technologies Corporation (TTC) associate sponsorship in addition to his primary PickupTruck.com colors. "That's why we'll run what we call a standard transmission there again this year. We're just as fast, maybe faster, than those guys that shift. In the end, I think it just comes down to what the driver prefers and I am more comfortable with not shifting like we do on all the other oval tracks we run." Last year at Gateway, Cook had his #88 Chevrolet Silverado dialed in and headed to the front only to see his comfort level go south late in the race. "We had a big disappointment at Gateway in 1999," stated Cook. "We thought we had an opportunity to win that race after qualifying fourth. We had a great truck from the time we unloaded it and we ran in the Top-5 from the time the dropped the flag on the race. We made a late-race call to pit for fuel and tires when no one else did. When it all shook out, we were within a couple of laps of putting everyone at least a lap down when the caution flag flew. That killed our strategy and later on we dropped a valve on the restart. That sunk us and we wound up finishing 15th." Cook is quick to point out that was last year. This year's fortunes have been much better as the Sylvania, OH native has scored three Top-10 finishes in the first six events of the 2000 NCTS campaign. In 1999, Cook totaled three Top-10s all season. A solid run at Gateway would continue the early momentum and keep Cook in contention for the points title. "I always look forward to going to Gateway and it's even better now that I'm living in Indianapolis because it's almost a home track for us," said Cook. "I'd like nothing better than to come in and duplicate our qualifying effort from a year ago and then have our strategy click this time around. We've shown we're capable of running up front since the first race of the season at Daytona and I wouldn't be surprised at all if we'd win at Gateway. We did that at Gateway last year and we have the team to do it again this year." The Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway will take the green flag Sunday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) and will be telecast live by ESPN.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Terry Cook