By Alex Nieten
One year ago, Kevin Cooper made a statement with the COMP Cams Monster Mini Stocks. He drove all the way from 23rd to fourth for his career best finish in the division at the World Short Track Championship.
A year later and equipped with a much better starting position, there would be no denying Cooper. The Travelers Rest, SC native started on the pole of Saturday’s 25-lap finale and held off multiple challengers on his way to a $2,000 payday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
A win in his Friday Heat Race helped earn Cooper the front row starting spot. And he quickly took advantage of owning the best view in the house when the green flag waved as he darted ahead.
In the early stages, Cooper was forced to face a bevy of restarts as multiple incidents interrupted the flow of the race by bringing out the caution flag. The jockeying behind him was heated as Travis Mosley and 2022 Mini Stock winner – Matt Gilbert – battled for runner-up. On the fifth circuit, Gilbert snuck around Mosley to take over the second spot.
Gilbert couldn’t manage to close in on Cooper and found himself having to battle a hard-charging Daniel Coffey who had driven into the top three from 14th. As the clock neared the race’s time limit, Coffey passed Gilbert for second on Lap 13 before Gilbert returned the favor the next lap.
On the 16th circuit, Coffey roared back around Gilbert and set his sights on Cooper as the white flag waved. Coffey got a strong run exiting the final corner but couldn’t find enough momentum to move ahead as Cooper took the checkered flag with less than two tenths of a second between himself and Coffey.
“This feels great,” Cooper said. “Man, what a weekend. We’ve been good all weekend. We’ve been fast all weekend. I’ve just got to think the good Lord up above for letting us do what we do. And thanks to Charlotte for having us here and the Monster Mini Series for the great Series we run. We did it, baby.”
Coffey was one of many drivers on the move as he advanced 12 spots to go from 14th to second. Gilbert claimed the final podium spot.
Fourth belonged to Zach Lankford who passed the most cars with a huge 22nd to fourth drive through the field. Rounding out the top five was Logan Richey.
Feature (25 Laps): 1. X-Kevin Cooper; 2. 99-Daniel Coffey; 3. 117-Matt Gilbert; 4. 15-Zach Lankford; 5. 10-Logan Richey; 6. 1-Travis Mosley; 7. 37-Ben Burnett; 8. 2-Dylan Warden; 9. 212-Greg Brew; 10. 7-Brandon Clements; 11. 03-Damien Bryant; 12. 07-Jessie Richardson Jr; 13. H3-Harley Holden; 14. 12K-Cody Keith; 15. 01-Cornbread Chinn; 16. 56F-Nick Fulcher; 17. 28-Michael Webb; 18. 24-Josh Bryant; 19. 8B-Dustin Bolin; 20. 96X-Tyler Riddle; 21. 8-Ronnie Johnson; 22. 13-Landon Housley; 23. 28C-Brent Couch; 24. 44-Marcus Hughes; 25. 12-Pete Brew; 26. 115C-Dustin O’Neal