(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2015 Rookie of the Year program will award $7,000 for its five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. New in 2015 was the addition of $1,600 for the Rookie of the Year Runner Up bonus bringing the total rookie awards to $8,600. The Runner Up bonus is provided by Magnus Transmissions and is distributed among the 5 divisions. Taking home the Rookie of the Year Runner Up honors and a $400 bonus in the Late Model division this year was Chase Cook, driver of the #99 Erasable Images Powerwashing Chevrolet.
Cook is the son of Stafford Late Model veteran Scott Cook so he grew up around racing and helping his father work on his race cars. But unlike most rookie drivers who come to Stafford, Cook only had a single season of driving on his resume. Back in 2007, Cook won 6 quarter midget feature events in a row at the Little T Speedway. Cook’s experience working with his father and Uncle Jimmy, combined with his one year of quarter midget racing, was all he had to go on when he took to the track for the very first time during the NAPA Spring Sizzler back in April. Despite his lack of experience behind the wheel, Cook was ready to tackle his rookie season head on, much like he does playing Running Back and Outside Linebacker for Old Saybrook/West Saybrook High School.
“Back in 2007 I raced a quarter midget at Little T and then I have the background of working with my father and uncle,” said Cook. “The biggest question going into the year for me was how I was going to make out starting as a rookie in the Late Model division. My answer to that was just like in football, I was going to work my butt off, set a goal, and achieve it. All I was looking to do was finish a race, have fun, and do what I love doing since I was a kid as well as beat my Dad on the track. I think we hit all those goals and I was very happy with the season. I made a lot of good friends, I got closer with family and friends, and I really enjoyed coming to the track every Friday night and having some fun.”
Another challenge for Cook was racing against the level of experienced drivers in Stafford’s Late Model division. While Cook says he wasn’t overwhelmed, that fact began to sink in very quickly once he took to the track for the very first time.
“I think the biggest thing was racing against the experienced guys in the division,” said Cook. “Guys like Tom Butler, Michael Bennett, Tom Fearn, Josh Wood, and my Dad, some of those guys have won multiple championships and I knew right away that I was racing against the best of the best. I don’t want to say I was overwhelmed, but the first time I pulled on the track and I was behind my Dad and Michael Bennett, I was kind of thinking ‘What did I get myself into?’ But once I learned the line from following my Dad and Michael Bennett, I knew I could turn that into something good by just listening to other people’s advice.”
For the season, Cook posted 4 top-10 finishes in 17 starts to finish behind Michael Wray in the chase for the Rookie of the Year honors in the Late Model division.
“Rookie of the Year would have been a pretty good feeling, but we were right up there with them for the whole year,” said Cook. “I couldn’t run the full season because of my football commitment, but from week 1 to the end of the year I think there was a lot of improvement and the car stayed in one piece. I wanted to gain the respect of the other drivers and make some friends and I didn’t burn any bridges. This year was a learning year for me and we went into the season wanting to learn. If we had a big question we would ask my Dad, but other than that, we tried to figure things out on our own. Now that we know what the car is going to do, hopefully we can turn that into something good. I really have to thank Magnus Transmissions for offering this bonus for the Rookie of the Year runner up.”
Cook showed a vast improvement from the beginning to the end of the 2015 season and he capped off the year with his best finish of seventh in the season ending NAPA Fall Final feature event after running in the top-5 for much of the 30-lap race. That finish, combined with the knowledge base that he built up during the year has Cook looking forward to his prospects for the 2016 season.
“At the Fall Final I was running fourth or fifth for most of the race and we ended up finishing seventh,” said Cook. “I was speechless after the Fall Final race. I just had to thank all my sponsors, my Dad and his business Erasable Images Powerwashing, Donnie from R.A.D. Automachine was always there to make sure the motor was running good and we had everything we needed, my Grandparents helped me out with tires, my Mom supported me, and my Uncle Jimmy and my cousin Tristan and I was just happy that everyone was there for me. I’m hoping to start the 2016 season with a top-5 and then see where we can go from there. I’d like to finish up front every week and not tear the car up. I’d like to beat our Fall Final finish at the Spring Sizzler and turn that into a good season.”
For being the Rookie of the Year runner up, Cook will receive a $400 bonus from Magnus Transmissions that will be paid out in $100 increments to Cook for the first four races that he runs during the 2016 season at Stafford Motor Speedway.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.