ARCA Invades Palm Beach Int'l Raceway; Stuart Florida's Bryan Silas a Hometown Favorite on PBIR Road Course JUPITER FL (2-19-10) - Bryan Silas will be the first to tell you that he's not a road course guy. However, when the green flag falls on...
ARCA Invades Palm Beach Int'l Raceway; Stuart Florida's Bryan Silas a Hometown Favorite on PBIR Road Course
JUPITER FL (2-19-10) - Bryan Silas will be the first to tell you that he's not a road course guy. However, when the green flag falls on next Saturday's Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway, at least he can be considered the hometown favorite.
Silas lives in nearby Stuart, Florida, less than an hour away from the Palm Beach course. And for a guy who travels fulltime with the ARCA Racing Series, it's not often that Silas gets to hear the cheers from his hometown peeps.
"It definitely feels good to go to a track and then go back home the same night," said Silas.
"I'm not a road course specialist by any means, but it will be nice to have some hometown support. We always race out of town, so it feels good to finally get to do it in my backyard."
And because Silas understands that he's not a road course guy by trade, he has solicited some outside help.
"We've got a guy coming down from South Carolina to work with me - Matt Mullins. He's gunna help spot for me on the backside of the course with Andy (Hillenburg) spotting on the other side."
Mullins worked for Hillenburg at one time and also made 11 ARCA Racing Series starts as a driver earning top-10 finishes at Atlanta and Charlotte Motor Speedways.
Silas's car owner Andy Hillenburg, the 1995 ARCA driving champion, has been grooming Silas as a driver going on four years.
"This is going to be our year," said Hillenburg. "I said it at the banquet, and I'm saying it now. Bryan has really turned himself into a fine, fine racecar driver. He's still learning, but that's the fun and exciting part to see him learn and improve week to week. I've seen all the work and effort he's put into it, and it's all really starting to show. I'm very proud of him."
Hillenburg was also proud of Silas's performance in the season opener at Daytona. He had every right to be. Silas qualified an impressive fifth and finished ninth.
"He did a heck of a job ....... Heck of a job," added Hillenburg.
In addition to the extra help from Mullins at Palm Beach, that's not all that has changed in the Fast Track Racing camp. Bryant Frazier, who it was announced would be Silas's crew chief for the 2010 season, left the team after Daytona in favor of an opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing.
"We're bringing in Dennis Conner as crew chief for Bryan at Palm Beach," Hillenburg said. "Dennis worked with Hendrick Motorsports for years and won three championships in the (NASCAR) Trucks with (Jack) Sprague, so we know he'll (Silas) be in good hands. We expect to give Bryan quite a homecoming at Palm Beach."
Silas, after the ninth place finish at Daytona, is currently ninth in points headed to Palm Beach, the second of 20 events on the 2010 ARCA Racing Series schedule. However, only Patrick Sheltra (currently fifth in points), another Floridian, is the only ARCA regular ahead of Silas in points. With a good, solid top-10 run at Palm Beach, Silas could very well be leading the points when the checkered flag falls.
"The best case scenario at Palm Beach would obviously be a win," added Silas. "But, I'm not an experienced road racer. I go into every race now thinking I can win, but realistically, if we could come out with the car in one piece and a top-10 finish, I'd be ecstatic.
"Unlike New Jersey (Motorsports Park road course), this track's hard on brakes. You're reaching speeds of 150 mph-plus and then down to 35, 40 mph for some of these corners. The person who still has his equipment under him at the end is going to win.
"If there's anything that I learned in the test, it's that this is a very challenging course. There's absolutely no runoff. If you spin off here, you're gunna hit something. Attrition is definitely going to play a role."
Silas, who finished a career-best sixth in championship points in 2009, is starting his fourth fulltime season on tour in 2010 in Hillenburg's Rockingham Speedway-PBG Ford. By ARCA's standards, he would now be considered a veteran; however, Silas doesn't quite see it that way.
"I would definitely not call myself a rookie, but I when I think of a veteran, I think of a guy like Frank Kimmel who's been around ARCA for more than 20 years. Now that's the true description of a veteran. I'm not sure if Frank's still learning stuff, but I can definitely tell you that I am.
"I've actually only been racing since I was 15 or so. Most guys these days start a lot younger than that. But I do feel that we are now competitive enough that we can compete for wins this year no matter where we are. A possible championship is not out of the question."
The Tire Kingdom 150 presented by ModSpace at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway is scheduled to roll off at 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon, February 27th. On-track activity begins on Friday, February 26th with practice from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM followed by Menards Pole Award Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:00 PM.