Cook Walks The Line From 19th

Ray Cook in victory lane Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida. (NeSmith photo)
Ray Cook in victory lane Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida. (NeSmith photo)
Ray Cook in victory lane Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida. (NeSmith photo)

OCALA, Fla. — Driving a car he named “Johnny Cash,” Ray Cook started 19th and won the ninth annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series in front of a packed house on Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park.

Cook had the right set up and the driving experience on a hard slick track, as he took the lead on 43 and never looked back to claim the $10,000 top prize in the Horsepower By Hedrick Special.

“Howard Stalls asked me to drive for him in this race at the beginning of the season, and they’ve been building it since then, like that old Johnny Cash song “One Piece At A Time” and tonight it made some cash too,” Cook said. “We had trouble last night in qualifying, and had to come through the B main to make the race, but we had the right set up with tires and shocks to get us to the front.”

Once the car was finished, the Stalls crew installed a brand new Chevrolet Performance 604 Engine right out of the crate they bought at NeSmith Chevrolet for $5,195, so they paid for the engine in its first night on the race track.

Once Cook took the lead on lap 43, he packed his bags, turned in the key and checked out on the field to take a 5.942-second margin of victory at the checkered flag. By winning the race from the 19th-starting spot, Cook also earned the Hedman Husler of the Race Award for a $100 bonus. Before Cook took control of the race, there were five lead changes in the 100-lap event.

Mike Pegher Jr. finished second in the Bobby Lake Motorsports Warrior, and the 2013 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Bronson came back from a cut tire to take the third spot in the Brandon Ford Warrior.

It was an up, down, and up night through the field for Bronson. After starting 13th, Bronson charged up to the third spot by lap 14, but cut down cut down a left-rear tire on lap 15 that sent him to the pit area. Bronson restarted at the tail end of the lead lap, and raced his way back through the field to as far up as second by lap 62.

William Thomas led two laps of the race and drove the Alexander’s Industrial Service GRT to a fourth-place finish. Walker Arthur was fifth in the Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Special.

The 2013 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Ronnie Johnson started 23rd and finished sixth in the Hickman Manufacturing Special Johnson broke his primary car, the NeSmith Chevrolet Special in the B-Main race, took a provisional and borrowed Riley Hickman’s car for the main event.

The finish:

Ray Cook, Mike Pegher Jr., Kyle Bronson, William Thomas, Walker Arthur, Ronnie Johnson, Shan Smith, Jeff Smith, Tait Davenport, Ryan Montgomery, Brent Barrett, Chase Edge, Josh Adkins, Carter Stokes, Jake Perkins, Rodney Wing, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Austin Kirkpatrick, Mark Whitener, Jeff Mathews, Dalton Myers, David Earl Gentry, Justin McRee, Jimmy Shapre Jr., Brad Hall, George Kowatic.