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Ray Cook Back in Victory Lane at East Bay Raceway Park after 12 year Drought

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At the conclusion of the six-race Winternationals at East Bay, Cook held fifth place in the final DART Winternationals point standings. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.
At the conclusion of the six-race Winternationals at East Bay, Cook held fifth place in the final DART Winternationals point standings. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.
East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Florida entered its 36th year of operation in 2012. It's an unassuming one-third mile oval made of fine Florida clay. Some have called it a "magical track" which might just be true, as it's held a spell over Brasstown, North Carolina's Ray Cook for more than a decade. Last weekend the hex was broken when Cook and the D&R Motorsports team reached victory lane for the first time in 12 years at the East Bay Raceway, in the third round of the "Winternationals."
Ray Cook made it back to victory lane East Bay Raceway after a 12 year dry spell. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.
Ray Cook made it back to victory lane East Bay Raceway after a 12 year dry spell. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.


Cook finished fourth fastest in his group during Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series qualifying and later won his heat race. The "Tarheel Tiger" started fourth on the grid and led the 35-lapper on two different occasions, securing the lead for the final time on lap 31 and held on to earn the $7,000 top prize. With this win Cook now has two trips to victory lane in 2012 already.

Cook and the D&R Motorsports team have now returned back home following their successful stint in Georgia and Florida during "Speedweeks 2012." Overall the no.53 team entered eight high-profile Dirt Late Model events from February 10-18 at three different southern venues: Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Georgia, Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia, and the East Bay Raceway event. Cook was fast at all three facilities, as he accumulated one victory, two runner-up finishes, and two additional top-ten performances.
Cook commented that he couldn't be happier with how his D&R Motorsports team performed throughout Winternationals. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.
Cook commented that he couldn't be happier with how his D&R Motorsports team performed throughout Winternationals. Photos by Rick Schwallie Photos.


Cook's runner-up efforts came early during the "Speedweeks" and with the benefit of hindsight they appear to be only a warm-up. In Georgia Cook finished second in the $20,000 to win "Winter Freeze" at Screven, while he also secured a close second only a day later in the $10,000 to win 'Super Bowl of Racing' at Golden Isles.

At the conclusion of the six-race Winternationals at East Bay, Cook was credited with a fifth place finish in the final DART Winternationals point standings. The popular driver known as the "Tarheel Tiger" currently finds himself tied for fourteenth in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings, which were comprised only of the final two nights at East Bay.

"I am ecstatic on how we performed throughout Speedweeks and I can't thank my team and everyone associated with it for all of their support and dedication," remarked K&N sponsored driver upon arriving back home in North Carolina. "My hat is off to the whole MasterSbilt gang. They built me and (Don) O'Neal new cars this off-season and they were extremely fast right out of the box. We had a couple of close runner-up finishes in Georgia that got our trip off to a great start and then the win at East Bay really capped it off. Historically, I have not been very good at that place, but to win there for the first time in 12 years was special and it really gives me some confidence heading into the rest of the season!"

The next event for Cook and the D&R Motorsports team is the 15th Annual 'Bama Bash' on March 2-3 at the Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Alabama. The unsanctioned, two-day program will be headlined by a $15,015 to win, 75-lap main event on Saturday night, March 3. Cook won the event in 2009 and 2010 and finished a solid ninth last year despite getting caught up in a wreck early in the race.

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