Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SPORTS >> Cook tunes up for Scrapp Fox with a victory

Leader sportswriter

If Friday’s modified feature at Beebe Speedway is any sign of what’s to come at this weekend’s Scrapp Fox Memorial, there should be no shortage of excitement.

Curt Cook took his third modified win in the past five races with an aggressive pass on defending track champion Randy Weaver on lap 20 after starting seventh on the grid.

The driver known as Mr. Hollywood methodically worked his way through the field by holding a smooth line on the inside in the early going, but as the laps ran out, so did Cook’s patience. He banged wheels with Weaver in the middle of turn three to take the lead, and managed to keep control of his 601 machine coming out of turn four on the final lap when the four-time modified track champion decided to return the favor.

Weaver earned the top-qualifier spot by winning his heat, and stayed out front early on by holding off a racy Todd Greer. Greer eventually fell into the clutches of veteran Mike Bowers and Tyler ‘Rocketman’ Stevens in the Barker’s 2FAST machine.

While Weaver committed to the high side throughout the 24-lap event, Cook edged past several good cars by out-breaking them on the inside line in the corners. That set up a great battle between the two, and Cook finally caught the leader on lap 14. He got a number of looks inside, but the “Big Show,” as Weaver is known in racing circles, used the momentum of the outside line to stay out front until Cook stuck it hard into turn three to take over first.

The only yellow flag of the night came out on lap two, when Stevens and former state IMCA champion Donnie Stringfellow of Heber Springs, touched in turn two. Stevens continued, but Stringfellow went around to bring out the caution.

Bryant’s Casey Findley qualified third for the feature, but his car did handle as well in the main event. Bowers made his way around the former track champ on lap seven, followed by Cook and Stevens two circuits later.

Weaver claimed second, while Bowers finished third and Stevens fourth. Greer held on to round out the top five, with Findley sixth. Cabot pilots David Payne and Jason Flory finished eighth and 10th respectively. Other local entries included the 458 car of Beebe’s Sammy Chamberlain, who finished 12th, while Jacksonville area driver Cory Dumas finished 13th in the 51F car.

Jacksonville’s Mike McDougale won the hobby stock feature after starting third. McDougale wasted no time claiming the lead, passing points leader Bobby Blankenship and Robert Weston of Cabot on lap one. While McDougale dominated up front, Jeff Porterfield put on a show in his 44P machine. Porterfield started seventh on the grid, but sliced through the field, reaching second-place Weston on lap five. He couldn’t catch McDougale in the closing laps, however, and settled for second in front of third-place Weston.

Bald Knob’s Archie Conway, Jr. took the win in the economy-modified division on Friday. Conway started third and worked his way to the front by lap three of the caution-marred race, with Allen McElroy claiming second and Ryan Moore third.

Jerry Massey finished fourth, while Beebe driver Ryan Redmon narrowed the gap between himself and points leader Robert Woodard with a fifth-place finish. Woodard was collected in one of the many wrecks during the race and limped to an 11th -place finish.

Despite his misfortune on Friday, Woodard stayed at the top of the standings with 1,253 points, ahead of second-place Redmon’s 1078.

Hensley driver Willie Gillam didn’t let a disqualification following the street stock heat slow him down on Friday. Gillam took top-qualifier by winning the only street heat of the night, but his win was disallowed after failing post-race inspection.

Gillam started in the back of the small six-car field, and took the top spot over from Randy Eakin on lap three of the 12-lap feature.

In other divisions, Derek Goshien took the win in mini-stocks in the B5 machine over Greg Jackson and Paul Shackleford, while track staffer Shorty Wofford won the second powder-puff race of the season.

Heat qualifying for the seventh-annual Scrapp Fox Memorial will begin on Thursday, with the 35-lap, $2,000-to-win feature this Friday.