GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Being a successful driver in the highly-competitive arena of Factory Stock racing takes skill, good equipment and the right people behind the scenes. To combine a full season of IMCA Stock Car action and notching your first win there at the same time takes dedication.
For 22-year-old second generation racer Cameron Cook, this hectic and busy schedule isn't a problem. He's a talented wheel-man with loads of ambition, and it shows. In 69 starts this season, he's earned five wins, 36 top-five and 53 top-10 finishes.
His recent breakthrough win in an IMCA Stock car at Heart O' Texas was huge for the team.
“We have been working so hard to get that program into Victory Lane,” Cook said. “I hardly work on my Factory Stock at all because I'm so dedicated to the Stock Car now. We had been so close, so many times. Nothing had clicked, but it all finally came together last Friday night.
“It was such a big relief. I'm hoping the wins will come a little easier now. The first one is always the hardest to get, and this win exemplified that rule. We started out in the Lone Star Stock Car Tour, and made the A Main in a big field of 60 cars. That gave me confidence to keep going.”
Cook is now in his eighth season of action on the dirt ovals, and he says it's been quite a ride.
“My Dad and brother both raced for many years,” he explained. “I finally got to an age where I was interested in getting into it. I started out in a Junior Mini when I was 14, and I think I won 21 races and a track championship. They just through me off into a Factory Stock soon after that with the big guys.
“I got my first Factory Stock win at Boyd Raceway when I was 16 years old. I started eighth that night, just like I did last Friday at HOT. When I got the opportunity to drive this Stock Car, it really lit me up. I wanted to step out, see what I could do behind the wheel of another car and let folks know I'm here.”
As it turns out, he can compete in a very racy division full of veterans with years of experience.
“This year is big compared to any I've had in the past,” Cook explained. “Prior to this season, I'd never raced more than 25 or 30 nights in a year. I'm usually a one division, one night a week kinda guy. It's really my car owner who gave me this incredible opportunity, so I jumped on it.”
When he isn't running his own Factory Stock, Cook wheels that I-Stock for some fine folks.
“I drive that car for Ryan and Christy Anderson, and I'm fortunate to have them,” he said. “They are new to stock car racing, but are doing it right. They have a new car, new driver, new crew chief and new team. They own Big Red Auto Parts, and I'm blessed to drive their race car.”
Much has been written recently about Factory Stock, but I-Stock is also building momentum.
“The level of competition in I-Stock is well beyond a lot of other classes,” Cook said. “It took way longer to win a race here than I expected, due to the talented guys who race these cars. Guys like Blake Clark, Jeffrey Abbey, they're some of the very best out there. To win one of these races is super hard.”
When this young driver puts on his safety suit and prepares to race, he gets into a fine machine.
“I drive a 2022 Cadillac chassis,” Cook explained. “Ryan got it towards the end of last year. It's a nice car, I think it's one of the nicest cars out there on the market. It can run up front against any of them.
“As for horsepower, we have an engine that was built locally. It has all the power I need and is reliable, as well. I don't know the name of the man who put it together for Ryan, but he built us a great engine.”
Along with his raw natural talent behind the wheel, Cook has several good people behind him.
“I want to thank Ryan and Christy Anderson; Steven Ashcraft at Synergy; Jacob Pirkle at UnderCover Shocks; Billy Vest at Dirt Defender; Cadillac Chassis, Team9designs, Jason Wilkinson at Superior Painting Services; and Michael Bowles at MD Bowles Construction.
“I also need to thank Billy Baldwin at Baldwin Rental Properties; Shane McCoy at Mac Daddy's Grill; Dustin Drake at Cornerstone Heating and Air; Jason Cook at JR Precision Transport; Paul Upchurch at C&P Pump Services; and Demetrius Carter at BBD Racing. I truly appreciate each and every one.”
With summer now in its swan song and all of those big-money shows looming, Cook has goals.
“I just want to win as many races as we can before we put the cars away for year,” Cook concluded. “In the Stock Car, we're shooting for IMCA National Rookie-of-the-Year honors. In the Factory Stock, I'm still going after one of those big checks. We've been close, but maybe this is our year to seal the deal.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Stacy Kolar/Southern Sass