Taylor Cook Wins First DIRTcar UMP Modified World Short Track Championship Title

Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – He’s finished fourth, third, second, and even won the All-Star Invitational in 2017. But now, at long last, Taylor Cook is a World Short Track Champion.

Cook, the 28-year-old Summit Racing Equipment DIRTcar UMP Modified standout from Stanley, NC, took the lead from a breaking Kyle Strickler in the early going and held-off a hungry Ethan Dotson behind him for the final 24 laps to secure the win Saturday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

“It is a very big win, because all my family and friends are here,” Cook said. “My dad works full-time on a NASCAR Cup team, and he’ll be at Martinsville tomorrow. He doesn’t get to come to many races, so to have him here is awesome.

“To have all of our extended family and family friends, people I’ve grown up with in racing and people I’ve grown up with outside of racing here, it definitely makes it extra special.”

It’s been a long time coming for Cook and his team, who have appeared in every World Short Track Championship except for one (2020). Cook placed fourth in the inaugural event (2016), third in 2018, and was runner-up in 2017, but never could seem to find a way around the dominance of multi-time winners Nick Hoffman and Kyle Strickler. That was, until this year.

“It’s great to finally get the top step,” Cook said. “We work hard, even though we don’t race a whole lot. It’s just great to see that we’ve still got it.”

As the green flag dropped, Cook settled in behind Strickler after he bolted out to the lead in the first corner. Strickler cruised around the 4/10-mile with ease, opening up a nice gap on Cook through the first six laps.

“Kyle got the better start there, and he was setting the pace,” Cook said. “I felt like I was running in his crumbs a little bit, and I felt like I was keeping pace with him. I was just kinda biding my time and seeing what happens.”

And then, Strickler’s night turned sour.

A valvetrain issue struck the three-time World Short Track Champion as he rounded Turns 3-4 to complete Lap 7, causing him to slow suddenly down the frontstretch and bringing out caution. Strickler headed directly into the pits under yellow and parked it, done for the night.
Cook became only the third different winner of the division in seven years. (Jacy Norgaard Photo)

“I hate it for him that he broke,” Cook said. “He’s a very deserving competitor as well, and I hate that for him. But when I saw him break, I knew that was going to be our best opportunity to get around him.”

Now holding the lead for the restart, Cook took the field back to the green and opened up a slight gap over second-place Justin Haley.

Longhorn Chassis house car driver Ethan Dotson had been gassing it up on the outside lane and made the move on Haley to take second on Lap 16. He immediately set his sights on Cook, who was well over a full second ahead and approaching lapped traffic.

“I didn’t have any idea where they were behind me,” Cook said. “I knew my car was really good, but I figured those guys were just as good. I was cautiously aggressive with the lapped cars, just trying not to give up too much time but not spin myself or wreck into one of the lapped cars.”

Cook soon found himself with a large pack of slower traffic ahead of him and Dotson rapidly closing the gap behind him. With 11-to-go, the two made some light contact when Cook tried to get around Jason Altiers and met Dotson’s left-front as he attempted the pass for the lead to his outside.

“The lapped car moved, and I was a little too high [on the track],” Dotson said. “I tried to go around him, tried to ask more than what was there.”

“That was pure, dumb luck,” Cook said with a chuckle about the move that held-off Dotson. “I had no idea where he was the entire time. If I took his line away, it was just dumb luck.”
Dotson bagged his second-straight top-10 finish in the event. (Jacy Norgaard Photo)

The close-call seemed to be the wakeup call Cook needed to get going, as he sped away from the melee and pulled back out to a few car-lengths advantage on Dotson in the next few laps. Dotson also found his way around the lappers and made one last push for the lead in the final circuits but was unable to catch Cook in the end.

“I’d catch the leader, and then we got in lapped traffic and I just couldn’t move as good as he could,” Dotson said. “That’s kinda where he got me.”

Dotson settled for second as Justin Haley came in behind him to grab the final podium spot in his World Short Track debut. The NASCAR Cup Series full-timer qualified the Cup car earlier in the day in Martinsville, VA, then immediately made the trip back south to Concord to compete in the Feature event, which paid-off well for the young Indianan.
Summit Racing Equipment DIRTcar UMP Modifieds | 36 Entries
Feature 30 Laps | 00:10:54.423

1. 21-Taylor Cook[1]; 2. 00-Ethan Dotson[5]; 3. 99H-Justin Haley[3]; 4. 8-Austin Holcombe[7]; 5. 96M-Mike McKinney[4]; 6. 99W-Chris Arnold[8]; 7. 79D-John DeMoss[15]; 8. 77-George Dixon[13]; 9. 5-Jonathan Taylor[9]; 10. 71D-Dan Davies[6]; 11. 7-Evan Taylor[11]; 12. 95J-Justin Cullum[14]; 13. 11-Troy Loomis[12]; 14. 88-Matt Crafton[21]; 15. 44-Jeff Parsons[17]; 16. 18-Brandon Kinzer[18]; 17. 4M-Tim Monroe[25]; 18. T2-Greg Hauger[22]; 19. 25-Jason Altiers[16]; 20. 99-Cole Hilton[20]; 21. 12R-Ty Rhoades[19]; 22. 55-Alyssa Rowe[26]; 23. 21S-Kenny Shaw[10]; 24. 74-Mike Franklin[24]; 25. 8S-Kyle Strickler[2]; 26. 6-Ryan Ayers[23]
Last Chance Showdown 1 8 Laps | 00:03:34.000

1. 44-Jeff Parsons[1]; 2. 18-Brandon Kinzer[4]; 3. 12R-Ty Rhoades[5]; 4. 99-Cole Hilton[2]; 5. 88-Matt Crafton[8]; 6. T2-Greg Hauger[3]; 7. 74-Mike Franklin[9]; 8. 12-Skylar Marlar[12]; 9. 4M-Tim Monroe[20]; 10. 9T-Mason Canter[19]; 11. 22-Donnie Levister[16]; 12. 814-Samuel Lamborgini[11]; 13. 55-Alyssa Rowe[14]; 14. 463-Daniel Sanchez[13]; 15. 5CS-Curt Spalding[18]; 16. 72-Todd Neiheiser[6]; 17. 7T-Drake Troutman[17]; 18. 52-Colin Green[10]; 19. 6-Ryan Ayers[15]; 20. 35-David Stremme[7]
Heat 1 8 Laps | 00:03:44.000

1. 21-Taylor Cook[2]; 2. 00-Ethan Dotson[1]; 3. 5-Jonathan Taylor[4]; 4. 77-George Dixon[3]; 5. 44-Jeff Parsons[5]; 6. 12R-Ty Rhoades[6]; 7. 74-Mike Franklin[9]; 8. 463-Daniel Sanchez[8]; 9. (DNS) 7T-Drake Troutman
Heat 2 8 Laps | 00:07:28.000

1. 8S-Kyle Strickler[2]; 2. 71D-Dan Davies[1]; 3. 21S-Kenny Shaw[4]; 4. 95J-Justin Cullum[9]; 5. 99-Cole Hilton[7]; 6. 72-Todd Neiheiser[6]; 7. 52-Colin Green[5]; 8. 55-Alyssa Rowe[8]; 9. (DNS) 5CS-Curt Spalding
Heat 3 8 Laps | 00:04:02.000

1. 96M-Mike McKinney[5]; 2. 8-Austin Holcombe[2]; 3. 7-Evan Taylor[3]; 4. 79D-John DeMoss[6]; 5. T2-Greg Hauger[7]; 6. 35-David Stremme[1]; 7. 814-Samuel Lamborgini[9]; 8. 6-Ryan Ayers[4]; 9. 9T-Mason Canter[8]
Heat 4 8 Laps | 00:05:24.000

1. 99H-Justin Haley[1]; 2. 99W-Chris Arnold[2]; 3. 11-Troy Loomis[3]; 4. 25-Jason Altiers[4]; 5. 18-Brandon Kinzer[5]; 6. 88-Matt Crafton[6]; 7. 12-Skylar Marlar[9]; 8. 22-Donnie Levister[8]; 9. 4M-Tim Monroe[7]
Qualifying Group A 2 Laps | 00:06:44.000

1. 00-Ethan Dotson, 00:16.749[3]; 2. 71D-Dan Davies, 00:16.818[14]; 3. 21-Taylor Cook, 00:16.826[2]; 4. 8S-Kyle Strickler, 00:16.858[11]; 5. 77-George Dixon, 00:17.016[5]; 6. 5CS-Curt Spalding, 00:17.083[9]; 7. 5-Jonathan Taylor, 00:17.184[12]; 8. 21S-Kenny Shaw, 00:17.198[10]; 9. 44-Jeff Parsons, 00:17.259[4]; 10. 52-Colin Green, 00:17.320[16]; 11. 12R-Ty Rhoades, 00:17.351[1]; 12. 72-Todd Neiheiser, 00:17.383[15]; 13. 7T-Drake Troutman, 00:17.392[18]; 14. 99-Cole Hilton, 00:17.401[17]; 15. 463-Daniel Sanchez, 00:17.628[13]; 16. 55-Alyssa Rowe, 00:17.759[7]; 17. 74-Mike Franklin, 00:18.098[8]; 18. 95J-Justin Cullum[6]
Qualifying Group B 2 Laps | 00:06:12.000

1. 35-David Stremme, 00:16.695[8]; 2. 99H-Justin Haley, 00:16.748[1]; 3. 8-Austin Holcombe, 00:16.902[5]; 4. 99W-Chris Arnold, 00:16.960[13]; 5. 7-Evan Taylor, 00:17.040[4]; 6. 11-Troy Loomis, 00:17.099[14]; 7. 6-Ryan Ayers, 00:17.106[16]; 8. 25-Jason Altiers, 00:17.405[17]; 9. 96M-Mike McKinney, 00:17.497[15]; 10. 18-Brandon Kinzer, 00:17.563[6]; 11. 79D-John DeMoss, 00:17.816[7]; 12. 88-Matt Crafton, 00:17.832[11]; 13. T2-Greg Hauger, 00:17.842[10]; 14. 4M-Tim Monroe, 00:17.939[3]; 15. 9T-Mason Canter, 00:18.178[12]; 16. 22-Donnie Levister, 00:18.351[2]; 17. 814-Samuel Lamborgini, 00:19.312[9]; 18. 12-Skylar Marlar, 00:19.312[18]

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