Ryan Mathews Takes Fifth to the Delight of the Hometown Crowd Milwaukee Kind to the Young Driver Taking His Second-Straight Top-Five ARCA Finish DENVER, NC (August 28, 2006) -- Wisconsin racing fans are passionate about their racing. They ...
Ryan Mathews Takes Fifth to the Delight of the Hometown Crowd
Milwaukee Kind to the Young Driver Taking His Second-Straight Top-Five ARCA Finish
DENVER, NC (August 28, 2006) -- Wisconsin racing fans are passionate about their racing. They support their hometown drivers on all levels of competition better than most fans around the country. That is why when Ryan Mathews was introduced to the fans at The Milwaukee Mile on Sunday afternoon, the tremendous applause and shouts of encouragement to the young driver from nearby Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was even more of a motivation to go out and contend for a win in front of the hometown crowd.
Mathews did everything the fans could have asked for on Sunday. He raced inside the top-five for much of the race and settled for a fifth-place finish in the Governor's Cup 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race in Milwaukee. The 26-year-old ARCA rookie, fresh off his runner-up finish last week at Michigan International Speedway, was in contention for the win again in Milwaukee from the drop of the green flag while using an unconventional line around the flat one-mile speedway.
"The car was good at the beginning, but I didn't know just how good it was until we started running and got up in the high groove a couple of times," said Mathews. "I noticed I was closing up on guys by running the high line. I would float it in real high and these big heavy cars on this flat track can keep up momentum up there. That let me get a much better run off the corners, especially off of two, and I could pass people on the outside. I worked all the way up to second before the first round of pit stops by running the outside."
From there, pit strategy and a strong racecar would keep Mathews inside the top-10 for the remainder of the event. Even when pit cycles forced him towards the back of the field, Mathews quickly worked the #22 Eddie Sharp Racing Dodge back up with the leaders.
"We planned on making no changes on the first stop because the car was handling so well. We didn't have the greatest pit stop the first stop and we lost some spots, but we were able to pick up some more spots on the next run. We just got a little bit tighter and that was the story of the race.
"We had a much better pit stop the second time, but it seemed like every time we couldn't free the car up to catch up to the track that was gaining a lot of grip as the day went on. At the very end I was still using the high lane and picked off two more guys in the last couple of laps to get up to fifth. I'm very happy with coming out of here with a top-five. Obviously a win is what we came here for, but we're learning as we go and a fifth place today is a pretty solid run for us."
At the flat tracks like Milwaukee, typically the inside line is the quick way around. Not for Mathews and his #22 Dodge on this day, however. Mathews was running just outside the top-five with just a few laps to go, but used the outside groove to his advantage in the final circuits.
"I like running the high line. Even when I was running Late Models I liked being on the outside. It just seems like everybody likes to freight train on the bottom, leaving clear racetrack on the outside. I was able to poke out there and pass some cars out there today. I was happy to get going out there. These heavy cars are just different. You just have to run where your car likes to run and it just so happens this car likes to be on the outside."
The same crowd that gave Mathews one of the biggest ovations at the start of the race left happy knowing that their hometown driver secured another top-five finish. The fifth-place run was his second-straight top-five on the season.
"It was neat coming back to Wisconsin. I liked coming back to see all my buddies that I raced Late Models with and a bunch of old crew guys. I got a nice big cheer from the grandstands and it was neat to get that kind of support. It is pretty cool to be here racing at the Milwaukee Mile with all the great cars that were here and the nice weather. It was a pretty neat event."
Mathews has scored four top-10 finishes in his last five ARCA RE/MAX Series events. Even team owner Eddie Sharp was impressed with another strong finish from Mathews at his home track in Milwaukee.
"It was textbook Ryan today," said Sharp. "He was steady and he was there in contention all day long. Ryan's a sleeper. I think he's got more than enough talent to make it. I think he's like Matt Kenseth. It's just a matter of time before someone recognizes that. He's a racer; a natural racer.
Mathews will be back behind the wheel of the ESR #22 on September 16th for the ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway.