Dalton Cook gets first Southern All-Stars win


Dalton Cook collected his first XS SAS win.

A persistent rain shower threw a wrench into what was expected at the Southern All-Stars race at I-75 Raceway. Once things were ironed out, Dalton Cook collected his first Southern All-Stars win.

Initially, 21 late models were signed in for the $5,000 to win race. A rain shower moved over the speedway as the driver’s meeting was taking place. The shower lasted over an hour leaving drivers and fans wondering if the race would take place. Several drivers decided not to wonder any longer and left the facility, including prohibitive favorite Cory Hedgecock. Once the track was ready for hot laps around 10:15, sixteen cars remained for the fast-paced show.

Sam Seawright was the fast qualifier overall with a new track record of 13.492 seconds. That easily beat the second fastest car of Dalton Cook in group A qualifying by nearly a quarter of a second. Dusty Carver topped group B qualifying with a time of 14.021 seconds to earn the outside pole position.

Before the race went to green, Seawright opted to start from the outside of the front row. When the race did go green, Seawright wasted no time in shooting to the lead. Jason Hiett followed Seawright around Carver into second. Cook and Todd Morrow also got around Carver on the opening lap.

The race was slowed for a caution coming to lap 2 for Matt Dooley, Seawright maintained the lead when the race restarted, Cook got around Hiett for second. Former series champion Payton Freeman began picking up positions, first getting past Billy Franklin, then Carver to move into the top 5.

As the leader caught slower traffic, Seawright was held up behind Joshua Sneed. That allowed Cook to move to the back bumper of Seawright. Seawright made numerous attempts to get around Sneed. On lap ten, Seawright got out of shape in turn 3 trying to move past Sneed. Cook took advantage of the situation and got around Seawright for the lead. Hiett then pressured Seawright for second.

A lap 18 caution allowed the field to regroup. Cook led the field back to green as Seawright and Hiett battled for second. Freeman tried to join the battle from the fourth position. Eli Beets, who started in 9th, joined the top five by getting by Todd Morrow for fifth.

Beets was the car on the move, first getting by Freeman and then Hiett to move into third. Beets closed in on Seawright and tracked down Cook. Beets looked for a way around Cook and the leader was dealing with slower cars. When it looked as though Beets was about to make his move, the race’s final caution came out on lap 36 for a flat right rear tire for Freeman.

When the race resumed, Cook pulled away from Beets and picked up his first career Southern All-Stars victory.

“It’s been a tough year,” Cook said in victory lane. “We ran Ray Cook’s Southern Nationals and looked really bad. We had to regroup and getting this win is a big left for us.”

Beets’ inability to mount a challenge over the final four laps was due to a right rear tire that was going flat.

“I really didn’t need that caution to come out at the end,” Beets said. “Riding around under caution, I could feel the right rear getting soft. I’m just glad we made it to the end before it went flat.”

Feature results: 1. Dalton Cook, 2. Eli Beets, 3. Sam Seawright, 4. Jason Hiett, 5. Billy Franklin, 6. Todd Morrow, 7. Dusty Carver, 8. Payton Freeman, 9. Heath Hindman, 10. Josh Sneed, 11. Robby Moses, 12. Tim Rucker, 13. Shay Miller, 14. Bobby Giffin, 15. Clayton Cooper, 16. Matt Dooley

Dalton Cook and crew in I-75 victory lane.

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