Ray Cook and team D&R Motorsports, recently rolled into Maryville, Tennessee, eager to race in the Late Model class at the Smokey Mountain Speedway. Four-thousand dollars awaited the winner of the Ultimate Super Late Model Series event. Cook and his team were confident they had a good chance to walk away with another victory under their belts. To this point, the season had been somewhat of a roller coaster ride for the team, but it appeared that everything was finally starting to pan out.
After a rocky ride during mid-season, Ray Cook is back on track and looking forward to the remainder of the season
"We started the season out really well," recalled Cook. "In fact, we had the best start that I have probably ever had. And then about the middle of March, we had some engine troubles and pretty much struggled through April and May, because we didn't have a good engine package back. During those couple of months, we really weren't happy with our performance, because we were behind the eight-ball. We got our new engine back in July," he continued, "and it really turned our program back around to where it was at the beginning of the season. We had some setbacks, but now we have it back on track and hope to end the year like we started."
Entering the race with confidence on his side, Ray Cook qualified fourth quickest and in turn, earned an outside spot on the second row for the forty-lap main event. At the waving of the green flag, the Brasstown, North Carolina native embarked upon a hard-fought battle remaining in the top five of the field. At the waving of the checkered flag, Ray Cook crossed the finish line in the fourth position, just missing a spot on the podium behind Vic Hill, Tommy Kerr and Billy Ogle Jr.
"We race at Smokey Mountain Speedway about four or five times a year," recalled the driver. "It's a nice facility; a great family oriented race track. We had been there a couple of times this season. We had finished second and third and it seemed like the engine was our problem. We knew we had a good chance of winning, because we had all of the pieces that had been missing before." When asked the importance of setting an impressive qualifying time at this event, Cook continued, "Qualifying is very important. That determines where you start. The better you start, the less you have to pass."
Although success depends a great deal upon Ray Cooks driving skills, he is also aware that his team is of utmost importance. "They're very important. Believe it or not, when the night goes well, they don't have to do as much," he explained. "The nights when everything goes wrong are when they're really important. That's when we really need them. They do a lot or work at the shop before we get to the races. When you unload and are prepared, that's as good as it gets."
Ray Cook, and team D&R Motorsports recently finished in the top five at the Smokey Mountain Speedway, in Maryville, Tennessee
Referring to keeping his car on tip-top condition, the driver continued, "Maintenance is one of the most important things you do, because if you don't do it, you don't get to finish. I go back to the old saying, "In order to finish first, you must first finish", he replied.
With that in mind, Ray Cook and his crew are strong advocates of taking proper care of their engines. They have an acute understanding of the importance of keeping the internal components of their motor free of any foreign debris. To ensure their filtering needs are met, they depend upon K&N products. In fact, the driver uses K&N oil and air filters, along with pre-filters, valve cover breathers, and K&N cleaning oil and lubricants.
Referring to K&N products stability and quality Cook said, "They've been around a long time. When you take one of their products out of the box, you don't have to worry about it. You know for sure that you're getting first quality products, and that's very important. I've been using K&N products since 1996."
When asked what he enjoys most about racing, Ray Cook said, "It's the competitiveness of it. It started out as a hobby, and it eventually turned into my job. I feel fortunate that I don't dread getting up and going to work every day. I enjoy being around good people and loving what you do."
When asked, what fans can expect from him and his crew throughout the remainder of the season, Ray Cook said, "Hopefully to have more wins, and if we can't win, to stay on the top five. We've got a new engine, and our car is in good shape, so hopefully, we can end the season on a good note."
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