CENTER LISLE, NY — This time, Chad Cook sealed the deal.
Cook, the Deposit, N.Y., driver who calls Thunder Mountain Speedway his Saturday night home, earned the most prolific win of his career on Sunday night, topping the Waymart Building Center/Sharkey’s Fuels ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ for Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP big-block/small-block Modifieds.
Cook earned $5,420 for his efforts in the event, which was shortened by four circuits to 46 laps from its originally scheduled distance of 50 laps by rain. The event was Round No. 3 of the Halmar International North Region.
“We’ve been close before,” noted Cook, who finished second in the 2014 ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ and last September’s Wade Decker Memorial, both high-profile events at the three-eighths-mile. “It feels good to get one.
“I knew we had a good car in the heat race. I had to stay out of trouble during the feature starting where I did (ninth).”
Cook was patient early in the main, while pole starter Matt DeLorenzo set a torrid pace out front. DeLorenzo, in his debut at the track with the BBL Companies No. 3D, came under pressure from eighth-starting Danny Creeden at the halfway point. However, as the leaders raced into traffic in turn three, DeLorenzo was forced to spin, bringing out the yellow on the 28th lap.
On the ensuing restart, Cook drove the Mike Costello-owned No. 222 around the outside of Creeden to take the lead. A quick caution slowed the pace and Creeden went to the pits with a flat tire.
Once in front, Cook first fended off Tyler Siri – then an emerging Mike Mahaney in the Jim Shear-owned ‘X’ ride – to score the win. He received $5,000 from the posted purse, a $200 bonus from Sharkey’s Fuels and $220 in lap money for the effort.
With rain falling, the event was deemed official on the 46th lap. Cook celebrated Victory Lane in the rain.
The win was Cook’s first-ever in a Short Track Super Series-sanctioned program.
Mahaney, of King Ferry, N.Y., parlayed his first start of the year in the unlettered Shear mount to a strong runner-up finish after winning a heat race early in the night. Anthony Perrego of Montgomery, N.Y., was quietly consistent in the Gary Mann-owned No. 55, starting and finishing third. Jerry Higbie of Newburgh, N.Y., surged from 13th to finish fourth and track regular Colton Wilson of Dryden, N.Y., drove the Pat Lynch-owned No. 42 to a fifth-place result.
Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y., pitted with right-front issues on lap 31 and recovered to finish in sixth position. STSS North Region point leader Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., advanced from 24th to finish seventh as the event’s Trackside Products Hard Charger in the Chrysler Racing mount. Completing the top-10 were Creeden of Wurtsboro, N.Y., and Cropseyville, N.Y.’s DeLorenzo, recovering from their earlier issues, and Ryan Jordan of Dryden, N.Y.
With weather threatening, a field of 42 STSS Modifieds attempted to qualify.
Heat winners were Cook, Creeden, Siri, DeLorenzo and Mahaney. Friesen, Andy Bachetti and Chris Stull swept the consolations.
Richie Hitzler of Lebanon, Pa., held off the advances of Saturday winner Korey Inglin in the final laps to win the 20-lap XCel 600 Modified event. Hitzler had the option of starting high or low on the final restart. He said he would “live or die by the top” and powered around the upper lane for the win over Inglin, Michael Burrows, Jamie Frantz and Will Eastman.
Hitzler received a $100 bonus courtesy of Sharkey’s Fuels and Waymart Building Center.
The STSS Open Sportsman and Fight Night Street Stocks both had their feature events fall to the rain. An initial make-up date of June 12 was announced. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the official rescheduling is for Sunday, Sept. 3. Both divisions were already on the slate for that night. Fans with ticket stubs will receive a discount for that show.
Up next for the STSS Halmar International North Region is the ‘Ultimate Outlaw 50’ at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, N.Y., on Tuesday, June 7 (rain date: June 8). The 50-lap event will be among the richest in track history at $5,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th and $400 to start. GRIT Series Crate 602 Sportsman and Fight Night Street Stocks complete the card.
MOUNTAIN MEMOS: Rain on the radar circled the speedway all day with a close call roughly one hour prior to hot laps. The show was run quickly with 140 race cars in the pit area before the showers that ultimately ended the program arrived….
Tough luck ended a top-five run for Danny Johnson, when heavy contact with Tyler Siri damaged the left-side of the Chris Gennarelli No. 27J just laps from the finish dropping Johnson to 16th. Siri ultimately ran dry on fuel and failed to finish….
Brian Malcolm won his heat race and was scheduled to start from fifth in the feature. Malcolm was unable to start the feature when a drive shaft failure sent him to the infield on the pace laps….
Scorers reviewed the status of Stewart Friesen twice. Friesen had completed lap 30 before heading to the pits and returned to the track on lap 31. Because a caution was called and lap 32 was not completed with Friesen behind race-leader Chad Cook, he maintained lead-lap status and was credited with sixth in the rundown….
The second STSS Open Sportsman event drew a solid car count of 31 cars. The next STSS Open Sportsman program takes place Tuesday, June 21 at I-88 Speedway in Afton, N.Y.
-Short Track Super Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com