When road ringers Chris Cook and Tomy Drissi last raced in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it was still known as the Sprint Cup Series. On Sunday, they will return to the series for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Cook will drive the #51 for Rick Ware Racing after a six-year absence, while StarCom Racing will field the #00 for Drissi, who returns after last racing in the series four years ago.
Cook last raced in the Cup Series in 2012 for Humphrey Smith Racing; his most recent start is a forty-first-place finish at Watkins Glen International. Cook has extensive road racing experience, serving as an instructor at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and assisting Cup drivers with such circuits; drivers he taught include Tony Stewart and Erik Jones.
In 1999, Cook made his NASCAR national series debut at Watkins Glen in the Busch Series (now Xfinity Series), where he finished thirty-ninth. Between 2005 and 2016, he made fourteen starts in the series, recording a best finish of twentieth at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in 2006. His latest start came in 2016 after a four-year hiatus, finishing fortieth at The Glen with MBM Motorsports. In 2005, he joined NEMCO Motorsports for his first Cup race at Sonoma (then Infineon Raceway), finishing twenty-eighth. He attempted eight more Cup races – all road courses – from 2005 to 2012, failing to qualify for four and scoring a best run of twenty-seventh in 2011.
In addition to Cook, Ware will also run the #52 car for son Cody Ware. It is the team’s first two-car effort in the Cup Series. Ware failed to qualify in his Cup debut at the 2016 Sonoma event, but has six Cup starts to his name. In May, he ran his first premier series race of the year at Dover International Speedway, finishing thirty-sixth. The #51 car, which is running the full 2018 slate, is currently thirty-sixth in the owner’s standings.
The 2009 Trans-Am Series champion, Drissi is a relatively controversial figure in the series. He was suspended in 2015 and 2017 for various incidents, the former being the result of overly aggressive driving. Earlier in June, he finished second in the Trans-Am race at Sonoma.
From 2010 to 2016, he contested the Xfinity road course events, recording three top-twenty finishes and a best run of eighteenth at the 2010 Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race. His last start in the series was a twenty-fifth-place finish at Road America.
At the 2012 Sonoma race, Drissi partnered with Tommy Baldwin Racing for his Cup debut, where he finished thirty-eighth after crashing on lap 78. A year later, he ran both road races for NEMCO-Jay Robinson Racing, and remained with the team as it rebranded to Identity Ventures Racing in 2014. Interestingly, all three of his Cup starts at Sonoma have resulted in thirty-eighth-place finishes; his lone Cup race at The Glen ended on lap 39 with a crash as he finished forty-second.
A Hollywood native, he also runs a film advertising agency, with many of his promoted films serving as car sponsors; for example, in his last Cup start in 2015, Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules appeared on his #66 car. For Sunday’s race, however, Drissi’s #00 will feature sponsorship from moving/delivery app GoShare.
“GoShare is excited to be a part of the NASCAR race in Sonoma with Tomy Drissi in our first appearance with the Monster Energy Cup Series,” GoShare CEO Shaun Savage stated in a press release. “Tomy has been an excellent brand supporter of GoShare and motorsport has given us an opportunity to get in front of a wide-ranging audience. We look forward to cheering Tomy on this weekend in Sonoma.”
StarCom’s #00 has been split by various drivers in 2018, including Jeffrey Earnhardt, Landon Cassill, and Joey Gase. Cassill scored the car’s best finish at Martinsville Speedway (twentieth), as the #00 sits thirty-fourth in points.
The 2018 Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place on Sunday, 24 June.