Thirty-three year old racing instructor Chris Cook has been handed a dream NASCAR opportunity by Joe Nemechek, who has hired Cook to contest two Nextel Cup and two Busch Series races in 2005.

Cook will drive for Nemechek's well-established #87 NEMCO Motorsports team in the new Busch Series event in Mexico City and on the series return to Watkins Glen while he will also take in both Nextel Cup road races at The Glen and Infineon Raceway.

Despite having no less than two decades of experience in the racing world, Cook is an unknown to most racing fans and even drivers, save for the select group of NASCAR racers whom Cook has coached.

Tony Stewart, who has two career victories at Watkins Glen, is one of several current Nextel Cup regulars to have sought Cook's advice at his 'Shift into Gear' driver coaching and training school.

When he is not coaching drivers on the finer aspects of road racing, Cook has proven to be no mean racer himself, competing in many different disciplines from the Grand-Am Rolex Series to Late Model Stock cars and Alaskan Ice Racing.

Cook has one previous Busch Series start, in 1999 at Watkins Glen when he ran a phenomenal second for team owner Jimmy Sasser before retiring.

"I haven't stopped thinking about getting back into a stock car since that day at Watkins Glen," Cook said. "It was a high point of my competitive career. Here I was, an unknown in the stock car world... If it wasn't for a five-dollar part, I might have been on the podium."

Cook earned the new opportunity through the financial backing of Western Pennsylvanian entrepreneur and racing enthusiast Chris Evans, one of Cook's students.

"There are so many talented people out there with great hearts and who never give up on their dreams," Evans explained. "Chris is one of those people with extraordinary talent. His story is an inspiration to people who think the mountain is too high to climb."

Cook and Evans met with NEMCO team owner Joe Nemechek and General Manager Randy Usher late last year.

"Chris has driven so many types of racecars," said Nemechek, "and this is an opportunity to see what he can do against the Busch and Cup guys. Partnering with Chris and Chris Evans is an opportunity to improve our road course performance. We've had a lot of success on the road courses in the past, and they will bring a lot of experience to our program."

"We hit it off right away," said Usher, who is in charge of the day-to-day operations at NEMCO. "These guys know their stuff, and their approach was unlike any other driver / owner we had met before.

"At first, I was concerned because I had never heard of Chris Cook. I went to Tony Stewart earlier that day and asked about him. Tony gave him a ringing endorsement on his ability and the great things we could expect. That made us confident Chris had a legitimate chance to win for Nemco."

With a testing schedule in place, the search for primary sponsorship has begun. Cook's support from Stewart has generated interest from companies focused on the Hispanic market for the Mexico City event, as well as companies located near his birthplace of Sonoma, California, also home of Infineon Raceway.

"Cook's background, and his chance to run these events, would make a good documentary film," adds Pete Roe, Business and Sponsorship Manager for NEMCO Motorsports. "He fits the mantra of NEMCO; people come first and we find a way to make it work through business."

Chris and his fianc? Tabitha Meready are relocating to North Carolina from Phoenix and will continue to operate the Shift into Gear business.

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