Story by: Corey Latham — corey@RACE22.com
Altamahaw, NC(May 16, 2009) — Wow. That was the one word on the tip of everyone’s tongue as they left Ace Speedway this past Friday night.
Ace is known for it’s good racing, and once again it did not disappoint as Bailey’s 300 winner Jason York was back again this week, but this time in his own car ready to do battle. And battle he did, as did the other competitors, on the track, going down pit road, with baseball bats, it got pretty intense everywhere. Rodney Cook just watched it all in his rear-view mirror as he picked up his first win of 2009 and his first since losing the cornerstone of his racing operation, his father.
Rumors of new blood were circulating a few days before the race and sure enough two new cars were against the regulars this week with David Latour and Jason York. Latour has been running in Asheboro this year as well as York, but York also has track championships at Ace and is one of the best LMSC racers of all-time. He had filled in for Rodney Cook 2 weeks ago coming home with a strong 3rd place finish, but this week he was there in his own car. After winning last week in Asheboro, the York Motorsports team wheeled out their brand new car and everyone was thinking it would be fast. We had no idea.
Weather was playing a factor in the schedule, and originally, qualifying was not going to happen at all. The officials told the drivers that it would roll off with points with Speedy Faucette winning the pole, and he would still draw a number for the invert. After some drivers argued that qualifying should be held, the announcement was made that only the Late Models would qualify after a brief 3-5 minute practice session. It worked out in many drivers favor, but not Speedy Faucette’s, as the most dominant car in 2009 made the chart in 3rd. On this night it was the super fast, RD Smith grabbing the pole award as RD was making his first trip back to Ace since the first of the season.
After the redraw, Smith would start 4th putting Dustin Rumley on the pole with York to the outside and Faucette being the big loser in the redraw as he would have to start from sixth. It didn’t take long for the action to start, as on lap 1 John Moore goes 3 wide cutting down his right front tire bringing out the caution. In that first lap, York was showing he wanted to lead and on lap 3 he made his move to the inside of Rumley going into turn three.
Side-by-side they raced through the corner, but only one came out of turn 4. As York was under Rumley his car abruptly looped around in front of the field, all cars would make it by unscathed except one, point leader Speedy Faucette. Many wondered if Rumley had cut down on York, but later York clearly said he just lost it, he thought he may have hit one of the “weeper” spots on the track from the earlier rain. He was fine, but Faucette’s car was a mess. Speedy would make repairs to his car and return without losing a lap in a car that looked to be legal for the modified division.
Rumley now had clear track and little pressure up front as he, Cook and Smith got away from the field after the restart. All eyes were at the back though, as York and Faucette were making a furious charge through the field. York had the fastest car on the track, but the track position would be the biggest problem on this night. He was faster than Speedy, but Faucette followed his move past every position York gained, amazingly at that, based on how damaged the #37 of Faucette was.
This sounds like it took the two cars some time to do, but we are only at lap 11 and York and Faucette have already gained 5 spots since their collision eight laps earlier. But they were not the only ones putting on a show, as Ace rookie Ryan Wilson, Jason Payne, Jerry Scott, John Moore and David Latour were having their own war right around the tenth position. This battle would rage most of the night, as Wilson and Payne would fight tooth and nail for over 30 laps.
Lap 30 would come upon us and York had made up nearly a entire straightaway on the leaders as he was on Joseph Lee Tucker for the 6th spot now. Tucker would spin in turn 2 to bring out the caution, giving York and Faucette a much needed break and a chance to catch up with the leaders. On the restart the two drivers begin to attack, first getting by Brad Kurth then the reigning champion Dean Fogleman for 4th 10 laps later. They would have to do something quick because up front, Rumley and Cook had checked out once more.
Lap 51 comes and things are starting to get desperate. Cook has now got on Rumley for the lead, and York and Faucette have disposed of Smith for 3rd. 5 laps later Cook finds himself in a very familiar spot at Ace, in the lead as he breezes by Rumley after some slight contact between the two. It looked as if was just a matter of time, the longer they ran, the quicker Cook had gotten. It looked to be said and done, Cook was out to an insurmountable lead, and York and Faucette had done all they could to get back to the front. Then all heck broke lose.
The #4 of John Moore would lose it entering turn 3 with no contact to bring caution bunching up the field as Latour spun to avoid him. It was going to be a 12 lap dash to the finish and on the green Cook was gone … Rumley had his hands full with York, and 3 laps later it got really interesting. As the cars came off turn 2, York got under Rumley, and Faucette got under York. The cars made contact allowing Smith to get 4-wide entering turn 3. Needless to say it didn’t work as all the cars made contact again and the wrecking began. Rumley would come out in second, Smith would continue to start in the back, but York and Faucette weren’t done.
As the cars pulled away, the battered cars of York and Faucette pulled down pit road for repairs. Faucette gets into the rear of York and almost spins him into the parked modified of Gary Young Jr. infuriating the Young and York crews. The York crew and Faucette’s crew had words, baseball bats and wrenches in hand, before the local authorities restored the peace. It wasn’t over between them.
Once again Cook had another restart to get past for that first win of 2009. He left at the drop of the flag, as Rumley had to pit from 2nd with damage and now the 2nd place man Brad Kurth was no match. Behind them RD Smith was driving like a man possessed, picking holes and spots as he got to them. In 4 laps Smith went from the back to 4th place in one of the most furious charges ever seen at Ace. Once again, Cook’s thoughts of victory were prolonged as Jerry Scott would make hard contact with the wall in turn 1 to bring out the final caution of the night spinning all by himself.
One more restart to go, but Cook could not be denied. After losing his father suddenly in December, he had nearly lost his will to go to the track as his dad was the backbone of the team. But he vowed to race on, knowing his dad would be looking on and he’d be rather upset if Rodney didn’t keep racing … Calvin Cook was a racer himself. Smith would charge to 3rd, but his was Rodney’s night, as Cook took his first win of the season at the place where he has had the most success over the last few years. It was well deserved and well loved by the fans to boot, Cook is a fan favorite and the fans knew what this win meant.
One of the wildest nights in recent memory for the Late Models at Ace … Great racing all through the pack, plenty of controversy and an emotional victory. After the race the tempers were still high, as the York team had accused Faucette of trying to hit them on pit road. The authorities were still there and they were trying to decide on whether the York team was going to press charges or not and if they do we’ll definitely have more on this later. But, in victory lane was Rodney Cook, the bright spot in a night of carnage and controversy, it was a night to remember.
1st Rodney Cook: “I was just riding back there behind Dustin, I saw him fighting his car, long runs my car just came in. You know I hate it for those guys behind me back there, they are battling hard. I heard Speedy made it a 3-wide deal, I’m sure if you ask him he was Mr. Perfect and didn’t do anything wrong.But that’s the way it goes, that’s what the fans come to see, I think him and Jason put some action out there. It wasn’t me tonight, but I’m sure I’ll have my share of it this year.”
“But right now I’m tickled to death. You know, I miss my dad, and that’s what I was thinking about those last 10 laps. I just got emotional and I wasn’t really saying anything. It’s just hard, he’s always been here and I wake up every morning wondering if It’s real, but I know for a fact he’s proud tonight. This is what it’s all about and I’m glad to get that first win out of the way.”
2nd Brad Kurth: “We’ve been working on the car real hard, we just haven’t had the handle on it but we’re getting there. It was a little free tonight but we’ve been tight all year so it was better, one small adjustment and we’ll be right there.I’m happy to come out of here with a second, I didn’t have anything for Rodney but we’ll take it.”
3rd RD Smith: On the crash at the end, “York got to us there at the mid part of the race, he was a lot faster so I just let him go. My car just got awful loose getting in, he caught me so fast I just let him get by, didn’t fight it at all. We got a run there, and I was coming with Speedy up under him, I was all the way up to his left front tire and he just hooked a left. Hit me so hard it knocked the steering wheel out of my hands, we just went on a ride after that. I hate for the guys on my team, we had a good car, we just got up there and salvaged what we could the last few laps.”