Ryan Mathews Scores Career-Best ARCA Finish At Berlin Short Track Veteran Uses His Experience to Bounce Back From Kentucky Problems DENVER, NC (July 17, 2006) -- Any racecar driver can tell you; the best way to bounce back from a bad race is...
Ryan Mathews Scores Career-Best ARCA Finish At Berlin
Short Track Veteran Uses His Experience to Bounce Back From Kentucky Problems
DENVER, NC (July 17, 2006) -- Any racecar driver can tell you; the best way to bounce back from a bad race is to stick it to the competition the next time out. That is exactly what Ryan Mathews did at Berlin Raceway on Saturday night by capturing his best-career ARCA RE/MAX Series finish, a sixth in the Sara Lee-GFS Marketplace 200.
"It felt really good after coming off of such a disappointing run last week at Kentucky to have such a good finish," said Mathews, who was involved in an accident on the opening laps at Kentucky a little over a week ago. "The whole Eddie Sharp Racing team did a great job. It was fun. It felt good to be in a super-completive car and banging doors on a short track. I really enjoyed the race. This is actually quite a bit more exciting than speedway racing.
"For whatever reason, racing is highly sensitive to momentum and confidence. Whenever you have a good run, it tends to lead to a string of good runs. However, it works in the same way on the opposite end of the spectrum. When you have a few bad runs, it is hard to get out of it. You see it everywhere from Cup all the way down to street stocks. I don't know why racing is that way, but it helps give me confidence and momentum going into the next few races. We've got a few tracks coming up that I guess you could call big short tracks. The tracks like Milwaukee and Gateway will work well for my driving style I think and coming off of such a good run this weekend, I think we'll be more than ready for those tracks."
With a one-day show, being "right-on" out of the box was key for Mathews and the Cunningham Motorsports #4 Dodge. Mathews had been competing in the ESR #22, but Berlin marked his first start in the Cunningham #4 Dodge. Cunningham Motorsports and Eddie Sharp Racing share a shop and resources in Denver, NC, where Mathews is a teammate with Ken Weaver's #20 1-800-4-A-PHONE Dodge for ESR and the various drivers in the Cunningham Motorsports #4.
"It was like having a veteran in the seat," said team owner Sharp. "He needed that boost after Kentucky. He needed to just go out and run all the laps and have a good time with no pressure. I think it was the turning step in the process of what we have to accomplish for the rest of the year. This week is Ryan's week to be proud that he was a contender. That should help build on his confidence when he gets to Gateway later in the year."
Mathews and the #4 team never found themselves out of the top 10 all day long. He practiced there, then followed it up with a seventh-place qualifying run.
"The car was really close out of the trailer. We just made some minor adjustments. We didn't put a lot of effort into qualifying; we were just really trying to focus on the race.
"We were a little free in the first part of the race. Then we made some adjustments and the car was about perfect for the second run. With about 30 to go, some of the other guys came in and got tires. We weren't sure about doing that; we opted for the track position. At one point, we were running as high as second there. But not coming in for tires bit us in the end. If we hadn't had that last caution with about 10 to go, we might have been alright and ended up around third, but that caution brought those guys (with fresher tires) back on our bumper. They had better tires and were able to get by us.
"In all though, it was a good run and very good for the team. The whole organization is really upbeat leaving Berlin because my teammate Ken (Weaver) had a good run too (Weaver finished fifth)."
Mathews's solid finish also came as a result of him pulling some pointers from his past races at Berlin.
"There is an advantage for someone like me who has a lot of laps on the short tracks and not a lot of speedway laps. I'm really comfortable on any short track, even though the car is different. On the short tracks, these cars don't feel all that different than a Super Late Model."
Mathews' run was able to vault the #4 team up three positions in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Owner's Point Standings.
Mathews will now have a weekend off from the seat before getting ready for his next scheduled event, the Shop 'n Save 150 at Gateway Int'l Raceway on July 28th. He will be back behind the wheel of the ESR #22 Dodge.