Three - Two - ???? Can Weaver Get His First ARCA Win at MIS? DALLAS, Texas. - Coming off career-best finishes at Lake Erie and Nashville, Ken Weaver has his sights set on yet another career-best performance this week as the ARCA RE/MAX Series ...
Three - Two - ????
Can Weaver Get His First ARCA Win at MIS?
DALLAS, Texas. - Coming off career-best finishes at Lake Erie and Nashville, Ken Weaver has his sights set on yet another career-best performance this week as the ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to the Michigan International Speedway for the Hantz Group 200 Friday, August 19.
Weaver heads to the Michigan event fresh from a runner-up performance in the ARCA 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn. Saturday, August 13. That was a career-best finish for Weaver in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition. It bettered a third-place finish at Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pa. Friday, August 5, a finish which equalled Weaver's third-place run when ARCA visited the Michigan International Speedway in June.
"MIS is a great place to race," said Weaver, a 49-year-old ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie. "We missed the pole by .0015 of a second in the June and at one point I definitely thought we had the that race won."
Weaver took the lead on lap 82 and was pulling away by two tenths of a second per lap when the lug nuts on the right front wheel started coming loose.
"Let me tell you, I thought the steering wheel was going shake out of my hands in the corners and within a couple of laps I knew we could not hang on for the win, but given the wheel problems we were really lucky with third; which at the time was my highest career finish in ARCA," Weaver recalled.
The 1-800-4-A-Phone team has really put together four great runs in a row. Prior to the back-to-back top-fives at Lake Erie and Nashville, Weaver posted a fifth-place finish at the Pocono Raceway in July. The next week, after starting in the back at Gateway International Raceway due to engine problems, Weaver had driven the car into fifth place before contact put the PhoneCo Chevy in a power slide thru turns three and four. He was able to keep the car off the wall and salvage an 11th-place finish.
"Gateway was disappointing given we had completely lost the brakes on lap 30 and we were still able to get past a ton of good cars and run into the top-five only to have it taken away," Weaver lamented.
It turned around, though, at Lake Erie where Weaver ran among the leaders all night.
"After (early leader) Joey (Miller) fell out, we really had a car capable of racing Frank Kimmel for the win," Weavern noted. "When the cautions quit coming, we were consistently two to three tenths of a second a lap quicker than the leaders but problems on pit road took us out of the hunt for the win!"
Nashville would prove to be the next step in Weaver's hunt for the winner's circle. Even though the car qualified fifth, the No. 20 Pontiac fell back to eighth until the car really started coming to life. Before the first round of stops the PhoneCo entry was the quickest on the track and coming to the front. With the caution flag flying, the leaders pitted. Given the problems the PhoneCo crew had pitting the car at Lake Erie the team decided to enlist the help of Jack Sprague's No. 16 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pit crew.
The hired guns helped. Weaver came down pit road in fourth and barely missed coming out with the lead. This time the No. 20 restarted second only to see five cars work their way around the 1-800-4-A-Phone Pontiac before the car came back to life.
"The most frustating part was knowing the car was really really good on long runs but having to ride around for 10 to 20 laps waiting on it to come to me," Weaver said. "When the car came around, it was was a joy to drive."
Within 15 laps, Weaver had worked the car into second place and was closing on the leader.
"It was the strangest thing. We used three different sets of tires and they all reacted the same way but differently," Weaver said. "The first set took nearly 30 laps to come in, the second took 22 and the third 18 laps. It was just like you could flip a switch, one corner you were tight as a dump truck and, bam, the next one you could just fly and from then on it was pedal to the metal".
Again cautions would not play into the No. 20 team's favor.
"With a few laps to go several of the really good cars behind me ducked down pit row under caution for tires," Weaver said. "My crew chief Doug George and I talked about the importance of track position and the problem we had waiting for the car to come in so we decided to stay out and make the PhoneCo car as wide as it needed to be if it came to protecting track position."
Restarting second in the final laps, Weaver would push the car to its limits but come up short of the first career victory.
"I don't know what our lap times were but I know I drove those last few laps in much deeper than I did qualifying," Weaver said.
It quickly showed as Weaver pulled away from the field and starting closing on the leader.
"I knew we really did not have enough horsepower to take (winner) Joey (Miller) on the restart but if we could have had just a few more laps it would have been very close at the line. I'm certainly proud for our second-place finish and all the hard work the crew put in this car".
Follow Ken and the PhoneCo team to MIS this weekend to see him attack the track on his countodnw to victory lane.