“Career best finish” has become a regular phrase for Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his DK-LOK Team in 2016. And after the Central Illinois ChevySuperStore.com 100 a career best finish vaulted the Alabama driver to the top 5 in the driver Championship standings, another “career best”.
Praytor made the call 2 weeks ago to gamble and take his best short track car RK500 to the dirt versus last year’s dirt car “Bubba”.
“We don’t have a lot of resources but we are in the hunt for our best season ever and we are going to use the best we have at every track and RK500 is our best short track DK-LOK Ford,” said Praytor.
The first laps off the trailer the team knew the Moose had made the right call and the Alabama driver was pitching his Roush Yates powered Ford through corners with some of the best dirt drivers in the country.
With qualifying cancelled Praytor and his DK-LOK Machine would roll of 14th based on practice speeds.
“Joe Cooksey came back and helped us and I just can’t tell you the confidence we have when Joe is with our team. His years of experience on dirt and in the ARCA Series, you know you are making the right calls.”
The 2016 installment at Springfield started like most, rather tamely and the Moose was picking off competitors and worked his way in and out of the top 10 most of the day.
“We spent the first half of the race coming down pit road making adjustments for what we thought the track would be for the final laps and Joe was gauging what was happening to the racetrack as the laps clicked off.”
At the halfway point 3 cars appeared to be about equal Praytor, Sarah Cornett Ching moonlighting from the NASCAR K & N Series and Tyler Speer who normally is behind the wheel of his drag boat going 240 MPH driving for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing.
“Racing with Sarah and Tyler was so much fun and aggravating at the same time. All you had to do was slip a little and they were by you, then you spent 5 laps setting them back up waiting for them to slip and you were by them. It’s fun racing with people you can trust through the corners.”
Past the halfway mark the level of intensity on the track was picking up and the give and take was going away as Springfield was starting to look like Berlin from 2 weeks ago.
As the pace intensified so did the “encouragement” from the spotters stand. “You can tell what kind of car we have by the intensity of my spotter. In horse racing terms just past the halfway point he started putting the spurs to me, with 20 to go he had the whip out and on the final restarts he had whip, spurs and double handful of mane whipping what was left to the finish line.”
Not only was the field whipped into a frenzy so was the mile long dirt track as it became a cauldron of dust that was at times impossible to see through. “Those last few restarts we just beat the crap out of car and everyone around us, you were just guessing were turn 1 was and everyone around you, it was wild.”
When the dust settled the DK-LOK Ford had bounced it’s way into a career best dirt finish of 8th moving the team into the top 5 in the ARCA Championship standings.
“Really a solid day for our race team, can’t thank Joe Cooksey enough for helping us out. Our UNOH crew had another solid day on pit road. We have some bent up sheet metal we need to fix and we’re looking forward to DuQuoin.”
With just 5 races left to go, the ARCA Series has a weekend off before heading to the second and final dirt race of the 2016 season, the General Tire Grabber 100 at DuQuoin under the lights on September 4th.