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Antwerp’s Cook still having fun on track

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HOGANSBURG — Jeff Cook is going through the longest winless streak of his racing career, but that hasn’t dampened the Empire Super Sprints driver’s sense of humor.

When Cook, an Antwerp native who is 42, was asked how much longer he wanted to compete in the series, he said, “Not a long time, just a good time. The way this year’s been going I was ready to throw my hat halfway through the season, but I keep plugging away.”

Cook has nine career wins in the competitive series, but the last time his car crossed the finish line first in a feature was on Aug. 27, 2010 at the Autodrome Granby track in Quebec.

“Oh yeah, it will come,” Cook said of more wins. “We’re just trying to be patient about situations. It seems like when I don’t get patient, sometimes I end up on my lid.”

Cook raced just a 90-minute drive from his home last Friday when the series came to the Mohawk International Raceway.

“The big thing is the pill draw, where you start out the night,” Cook said. “It’s an awful thing when your night’s dictated by what you pull out of that. These guys are so tough in competition, if you are starting in the back it’s tough.”

Maybe being close to home was lucky for Cook because he actually drew the pole position for Friday’s 25-lap feature. That was all the fortune that would come his way as he never led a lap and finished in seventh place while points leader Steve Poirier won his fourth race of the season.

Still, despite not winning for nearly three years, Cook remains one of the top drivers in the series. Friday’s finish was his fourth top-10 spot of the season and he ranks ninth in the points standings.

“We’ve struggled a little bit, just trying to get things together,” Cook said. “We had some motor issues, but we’ve got them figured out, I think.”

The Empire Super Sprints season started on April 6 in Selinsgrove, Pa., with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart winning the opening race.

The series came to the Can-Am Motorsports Park on April 26 and raced in Evans Mills on June 8 and returned to Can-Am on July 5.

Those marked rare weekends where Cook got to stay at home.

“As we left home today, my wife (Lori) said she’d like to get a chance to get the lawn mowed this weekend,” Cook said. “We’ll see how that goes.”

One reason why Cook keeps his good spirits and sense of humor during the season is it is a break from his regular routine. He said he owns a construction company, a hardware store and a diner.

“I have no free time, have to make it actually,” Cook said. “(Racing) has become a job. It’s another job you need to really keep track of and keep working at it. This is the only fun that I have. When I’m not (racing), I’m working on the car.”

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