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Ray Cook Back in DART Winternationals Victory Lane at East Bay Raceway Park
posted: Feb 16, 2012 9:42:37
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TAMPA, FL (February 15, 2012) – Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC returned to victory lane at East Bay Raceway Park on Wednesday Night. The win was his first in 12 years as he captured the $7,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event. Cook took the lead for good on lap 31 from Steve Francis of Ashland, KY to win the DART Winternationals event. Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, GA passed Francis on the final lap to finish second. Francis, who ran the last laps of the race with a flat right front tire barely edged out Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN for third. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL rounded out the top five.

In a spirited race for the top spot, three drivers took turns at leading the event with Davenport leading the first four laps until Francis took over the lead. Francis held the point until Cook, who started fourth took the lead for the first time in the race on lap 15. Cook and Francis then battled in traffic until Francis forged back ahead on lap 23. Francis then saw his right front tire start to lose air as Cook got by him for good on lap 31.

“It just goes to show you that anything with the Lord is possible,” said the elated Cook in victory lane. “These MasterSbilt Race Cars have run good the first nights with O’Neal winning, this whole team has been working extremely hard, Gary Winger with Integra Shocks, American Racer Tires, there has been a lot of people working a long time to finally get back in victory lane here and we finally did it,” said Cook who posted his tenth career win in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competition.

Reminiscing on his first and only win at East Bay 12 years ago, Cook said, “We started 21st and it was a 100-lapper, this year we’ve started off great and we hope to continue the momentum the rest of the season,” said the 40-year-old.

Don O’Neal, who was trying to win three in a row this week jumped the cushion in turn two on the first lap and slipped back to fifth. Cook, who started behind O’Neal took advantage of O’Neal’s slip. “Any time you get a chance to get by O’Neal you take it, he’s been running so well this week.”

Cook’s D&R Motorsports number 53 is sponsored by A+ Moving and Storage, VP Racing Fuels, Keyser Mfg., GW Performance, PRCF, Hicks, Ingle Company, and Superior Cleaning.

Davenport got by Francis on the final circuit to secure second in the Clint Bowyer Motorsports, Roush-Yates Racing Engines, Barry Wright Toyota. Francis in the Valvoline, Clements Racing Engines, Barry Wright Chevrolet barely hung on for third over Bloomquist in the Hawkeye Trucking, Roush-Yates Racing Engines, Bloomquist Race Cars Ford. Erb, who started 14th, finished fifth in his McBride Mack, Vic Hill Racing Engines, Bloomquist Race Cars entry.

Completing the top ten were Eric Jacobsen of Seacliffe Beach, CA; John Blankenship of Williamson, WV; Terry Casey of New London, WI; Donnie Moran of Dresden, OH; and Randy Korte of Highland, IL.

In preliminary action Don O’Neal was the Red Buck Cigar Fast Qualifier among the 45 entrants. Heat race winners were Jonathan Davenport, O’Neal, Steve Francis, and Ray Cook. The B-mains were taken by Duke Whiseant and Chris Brown. The PRC Strawberry Dash was won by Josh McGuire.

Awaiting the excited competitors in tomorrow night, Thursday, February 16th will be another $7,000 to win show for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series DART Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park.

For the latest breaking news on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, log onto or call the series’ office at (951) 532-2503