Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series

Dalton Cook secures first HTFSDS victory; highest-career payday at Swainsboro Raceway
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6/1/2024

6/1/2024

Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series


Dalton Cook secures first HTFSDS victory; highest-career payday at Swainsboro Raceway

SWAINSBORO, Ga. (June 1) – Dalton Cook’s postrace interviews almost always lean toward the colorful side. If anything, they can be a bit entertaining. But following Saturday’s Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series Southern Showcase finale at Swainsboro Raceway, the affable regional racer from Smith Station, Ala., was as close to a loss for words as he’s ever been.

Winning a career-high $20,000 can have that affect.

Leading all 50 laps from the pole, Cook raced to his first career Hunt the Front Series victory. He turned back challenges from national star Brandon Overton, who won Friday’s 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Southern Showcase opener, and then negotiated heavy traffic to turn back Michael Page, who closed in on Cook’s rear deck as they raced off of turn four to the checkered flag but didn’t have enough momentum on Swainsboro’s slick surface to complete the pass

Flashing his toothy smile in victory lane, Cook shook his head searching for the words to describe his richest triumph.

"I really don't know what to say. This wasn’t … wasn't really on my radar this weekend," said Cook. "I know I was blocking pretty hard there. I ran the same tires I've run all weekend, because I didn't have nothing else in there (to chose from). So that made tire choice easy. They cut me a lot of slack because I felt 'em. I'm glad I cleaned my earwax out ‘cause I was listening and bobbing and weaving.

“But I wanna thank the good Lord once again for allowing me to get here. Man, I can quit (racing) tomorrow and pretty much say, like you know, I’m (satisfied). Like, I don’t know. My mouth ain’t really talking. I really hope I ain’t messed this interview up. I know I probably look goofy.”

Cook held back fourth-starting Page, of Douglasville, Ga., by a scant 0.241 of a second while leading all 50 laps. Cody Overton of Thomson, Ga., started 11th and surged forward late in the distance to finish third in a Crate-engine-powered machine, taking the podium spot from his brother, Evans, Ga.’s Brandon Overton, on lap 46. Brandon Overton finished fourth after chasing Cook from the second spot for 34 laps – including the first 24 – while ninth-starting Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., improved four positions to round out the top five.

After winning the fourth heat race, Cook drew the pole position via the re-draw, putting him alongside Brandon Overton for the start of the main event. He quickly jumped out front but it took him awhile to shake his fellow front-row starter. Brandon Overton was within five one-hundredths of a second on lap 12, but couldn’t squeeze by the leader.

By the time the first caution flew for debris from Carson Ferguson’s spoiler on lap 24, Cook’s lead was nearly two full seconds. Page was able to take second from Brandon Overton on the lap-24 restart and the two Georgians swapped the runner-up spot before Page wrestled it away for good on lap 42.

Afterwards, Page – a part-time racer who also crews for Alabama driver Sam Seawright – said he had no intentions of roughing up Cook for the $20,000 winner’s check because he certainly didn’t want to wreck them both.

"I'm proud for Dalton,” Page said. “You know, we need … this sport needs the little guy to win more and have a chance. I was proud for him following him. I was still trying to win, but it just took me some laps to get going. But that was fun. That was a fun race. I just kept trying not to overdo it and to be there (at the finish), but I never knew how many laps we had left, so I didn't know how hard to charge until I seen the white flag and I went for it. But, I mean, he's a friend of mine. We've always been friends and I'd like to keep it that way."

Over the final seven laps, Page cut into Cook’s lead, trimming it from 1.454 seconds down to the final deficit. As Cook fought to get around the 20th-running Seawright in the waning laps, he had no idea how close Page was.

“I knew they were like sharks sitting there waiting. I was just like … I didn't know what to do,” said Cook. “You know what I'm saying? I'm just listening. I just (took it) one lap at a time. Just keep breathing and don't blink too much and just keep riding really.”

With a 604-powered Crate engine in his car, riding is all Cody Overton could do for much of the race as well. But as the track began to get slick, he began to make his way forward. While the podium finish was nice, he admitted, “the coolest part was passing my brother.”

“I’ve got a lot of laps around here. I wish it could have gone about 10 more (laps). I think it would’ve been a lot more fun for me,” said Cody Overton. “But who knows, it could have gone either way. I think I made the right tire call; I don’t know. It just took me a lot to get going. Me and (Shane Clanton) racing kinda hard I think it burned up a little bit and I slowed back down and just had to get back in rhythm.”

Saturday’s 50-lap Southern Showcase finale followed Friday’s 30-lap, $5,000-to-win weekend opener. Taking advantage when leader Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., drove through the cushion and smacked the wall in turns three and four, Brandon Overton grabbed the lead on lap seven and led the final 24 circuits, finishing 2.125 seconds ahead of Sam Seawright of Ft. Payne, Ala. Overton, the series points leader, became the tour’s first repeat winner this season. Carson Ferguson of Lincolnton, N.C., finished third, while eighth-starting Wil Herrington of Hawkensville, Ga., finished fourth. Michael Page completed the top five, while Winger held on to finish seventh without the aid of his rear spoiler.


Article Credit: Robert Holman | Ritchie Photography

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