Laang sprintcar driver Ash Cook is channelling the confidence gained from his breakthrough maiden feature race win into speedweek.
Racing at Avalon on Monday night, Cook, 22, will be among more than 35 cars contesting Tuesday night's meeting at Simpson Speedway, with both races doubling as round four and five of the Eureka series respectively. Cook will then turn his attention to a Premier Speedway meeting on New Years Day.
In only his second season racing 410cc sprintcars, the former wingless driver claimed his first feature race win at Wangaratta in December in round two of the Eureka series.
The dairy farmer said it was always his goal to win a feature race "maybe one day" but never imagined it would come at the beginning of his second season in the seat.
"It's pretty good to tick that one off now," he said. "It sort of gets the monkey off your back and now you can just focus on racing and not wondering 'will you ever get to that sort of thing'."
Despite wet weather conditions wrecking havoc to early-season sprintcar races in the south-west, Cook enters speedweek with three meetings under his belt.
Completing his races and getting the car through unscathed is the goal for Cook during a busy speedway, along with staying competitive in the Eureka series' rounds.
"We're obviously trying to do well so we're getting as many points as we can in the series," he said.
Constant seat time is another positive for Cook throughout speedweek, ahead of the 50th South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic starting January 27.
"(I'm) trying to get laps, build consistency and get in a rhythm all for the Classic and we'll give it our best shot," he said. "Seeing the (entry) list... all the hype is building up and we're really excited to get there."
Cook said his biggest learning from his first campaign racing a 410cc sprintcar was the need to be in "the right headspace" during races.
"You start off with time trials and that's sort of easy, you're on your own," he said. "But when you get into the heat races and features as well, it's another level. You've got cars around you, it's busy.
"Having the confidence within yourself when you get into the feature races, that you've obviously had the car speed to be there and that you belong there. It's real easy not to be confident in the features and then you don't drive as well."
Cook said the longer-than-usual off-season gave him a chance to reflect on what worked and what didn't in his maiden season, as well as what he could improve on.
"This whole off-season... we've been thinking about it a heap and had a lot of ideas and tried them," he said.
"We just wanted to get racing, gets some laps, get comfortable back in the car again.
"I'm just trying to chase that form and bit of consistency."
Along with his dad David, a seasoned racer, Cook's entry into sprintcar racing has been aided by Simpson driver John Vogels, whose offer of a motor helped them advance to the new class.
"It's a family team, and dad and Johnny have been friends for years so it all still feels like a family team having Johnny there," Cook said.
"He and his wife sometimes come along so (it's) all of us together going off racing and doing what we love.
"All the years of experience Johnny and dad have, it definitely helps with learning."
Gates open at Simpson from 4pm Tuesday, with racing to start from 5.30pm. The venue, which has had a new safety fence installed, will also host Formula 500s and Junior Formula 500s on the night.
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