Surprise, Surprise Cleary Motorsports; Gary Sherman A Threat Again; Finishes Seventh At Salem Salem, Indiana (09-18-05) - - While it wasn't an exact performance of Berlin Raceway it was pretty darn close for the Cleary Motorsports team as the ...
Surprise, Surprise Cleary Motorsports; Gary Sherman A Threat Again; Finishes Seventh At Salem
Salem, Indiana (09-18-05) - - While it wasn't an exact performance of Berlin Raceway it was pretty darn close for the Cleary Motorsports team as the Michigan-based operation racked up their third top-ten finish of the season in Saturday night's Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic 200 by Advance Auto Parts at Salem Speedway.
The team entered the final short track event of the season looking to improve on their misfortunate at Toledo and prove to everyone despite any set-backs they were still contenders. The team was the first car to hit the .5-mile bullring in the only practice session for the ARCA RE/MAX Series Saturday with Sherman posting a lap of 18.603 seconds amounting to a speed of 107.402 MPH good enough for the 28th position of the speed charts. "We've got to pick up the pace," said the former American Speed Association driver. "The car is good, we're a little off in the handling, but we'll pull it together and be ready to go for qualifying."
Indeed, the team was quite prepared for time trials. Gary was the tenth car to make a qualifying attempt. With the first lap not as comfortable as Sherman would have liked, he picked up the pace considerably on his second go-around notching a time of 17.992 seconds or 111.049 MPH good enough for 14th on the board. "I'm very happy with that lap," explained Sherman, a native of Holt, Michigan. "We needed to make this race on time as it is a very competitive field and we did it very comfortably. I'm proud of the hard work that the Cleary Motorsports team has put up this weekend; we're ready to go racing."
35 ARCA RE/MAX Series superstars took the green flag shortly after 7:15 CDT with Sherman quickly falling in line and into a rhythm. Sherman continued to be patient during the first half of the event guiding his way through lap traffic and fellow competitors. However, Stan Boyd in the No. 08 machine nailed the No. 76 machine hard in the rear bumper during one of the early caution flags as Gary slowed down for an incident in front of him. The damage was massive but would not play havoc on the team.
For a majority of the race it was all the same, Sherman raced clean and fair. With guidance from up-above from his father in the spotter's tower, he avoided much of the battered machines closing in on the finish. But, it wasn't all a smooth night for the team. As the team elected to make routine pit stops, ARCA officials decided to return to racing the next lap. The Cleary Motorsports team would have to hustle to make pit stops on the No. 76 sending the driver back onto the track with the leaders coming off of turn two and Gary off turn four. Like a veteran, he was able to slice and dice his way through traffic and maintain a comfortable position ahead of the leaders. Despite having the same circumstance happen twice, they never fell off the lead lap.
Sherman would race hard for the remainder of the event despite some lengthy late race cautions and cross the line seventh in his ARCA Salem debut. "Wow, what a night," said a smiling Gary Sherman climbing from the car. "We were a little tight, but she was fun to drive. The crew did a good job tonight; we were on our toes on the track and have another finish to boast about. I can't say enough about this Cleary Motorsports team, they are the real deal."
The finish garnered the team their third top-ten finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in only four races. The team finished a brilliant fifth at Berlin, and a solid tenth at Lake Erie before tonight's performance. Participating at Gateway wasn't as successful but did net a 24th place finish. "Three out of four isn't bad," said Gary when notified of the fact.
Gary wasn't the only one seen with smiles as car owner Rob Cleary was in his glory. "To come out of the box in a very short amount of time and be able to put a program together like we have should say volume. Gary is a talented and gifted race car driver and not only was he on top of his game tonight, the entire crew as and I couldn't ask for anything more."
In addition to the team, both driver and car owner extended a huge thanks to their sponsors for the weekend Quality Auto, Northside Service, Trackside Restaurant and Advantage Snowplowing. "Without our sponsors we would not have been able to produce this good finish," continued Cleary.J J "I hope they know how much this team appreciates what they have done. We're trying to expand our schedule a lot next year and this finish only boosts our morale and hopes for that to happen."
The Cleary Motorsports team will skip the 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series finale from Talladega Superspeedway choosing to focus on their 2006 commitment to the series. "Right now ARCA is where we want to be," said both driver and car owner. "We're talking to some sponsors trying to turn this part-time schedule into a full-championship contender operation for next season. We only hope that our dream becomes a reality."