Texans Test at Toledo; 53-Year-Old Ken Weaver, 16-Year-Old Chris Buescher Prep for Menards 200 ARCA Race Weekend May 16, 17 TOLEDO OH (5-11-09) - In one corner of the garage is 53-year-old Texan Ken Weaver. In the other corner is 16-year-old...
Texans Test at Toledo; 53-Year-Old Ken Weaver, 16-Year-Old Chris Buescher Prep for Menards 200 ARCA Race Weekend May 16, 17
TOLEDO OH (5-11-09) - In one corner of the garage is 53-year-old Texan Ken Weaver. In the other corner is 16-year-old Texan Chris Buescher. Both were testing Monday at Toledo Speedway in preparation for this weekend's Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
Weaver, the tallest driver in the line-up at 6'7", is also one of the most candid.
"The rust is taking a long time to come off," said Weaver, who hadn't raced on the ARCA RE/MAX Series tour for three years prior to his 2009 return. "I'm having to relearn the line (at Toledo); I think I forgot where it was."
If Weaver was doing all he could to knock the rust off, Buescher, who won't be 17 until the end of October, hasn't been around long enough for any rust to accumulate.
"I'm just trying to learn what the car does in different situations," said Buescher, whose cousin James Buescher won the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
"Really just trying to learn the car and what adjustments it needs." Buescher is testing the same Roush Racing Ford that David Ragan drove in both events at Toledo in 2008. Buescher currently lives with David Ragan's parents' Ken and Beverly Ragan in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Originally from Texas, Buescher is home schooled while he pursues his racing career. A sign of our changing world, Buescher is utilizing virtual online courses to get there.
"It's tough - teaching myself chemistry and Algebra II. But I love Math, so it's coming along. David's mom (Beverly) helps me a lot too." For Weaver, the lessons of readin', writin' and 'rithmetic are mostly a thing of the past. But even at 53, there are lessons to be learned - especially when trying to figure out the challenging Toledo short-track.
"I'm pinching off both corners," added Weaver. "In terms of tracks I consider challenging, this one (Toledo) ranks right up there. It's very easy to overdrive. There aren't four lines around this track like an MIS or Fontana. Hitting your marks is paramount here. I just haven't put together four good corners yet."
Weaver, who drives the no. 4 Tri Color-Quik Cash Dodge for Cunningham Motorsports, opened the season with a solid fifth place finish at Daytona. However, since then, it's been a tough road to hoe. Finishes of 20th at Salem, 24th at Rockingham and 38th at Talladega sent the Dallas, Texas driver plummeting in points. Then, a breath of fresh air at Kentucky Saturday night where he finished 11th.
"I feel like Kentucky returned us to being competitive. We were really good in one and two; three and four was a struggle. The car got real tight, and I just didn't give them (the crew) the feedback I should have. Should have had them loosen me up on the first stop.
"I've been behind the car this year. It's amazing that you can lose that much feel for this once you've been away for awhile. It's not fair to the crew when you have a driver that's not keeping up with it (the car). It's not like I don't have one of the best crew chiefs anywhere working for me."
Weaver's crew chief is veteran Paul Andrews, best known for crew chiefing the late Alan Kulwicki to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 1992.
Buescher's crew chief is veteran crew chief Gary Roulo. Roulo fielded the same car for Ragan at Toledo last year.
"Gary's been working real close with me on getting the line right," added Buescher. "We've actually tested here a few times. David proved this car can run up front here. I really feel like we can win." If Buescher does win, he would become the youngest winner in ARCA RE/MAX Series history. Currently, Buescher's cousin James holds the distinction of being the youngest series winner with his victory at Lakeland, Florida in 2007, just two days shy of his 17th birthday.
"I feel like we're pretty close right now on the track; if we're not on it, we're real close," added Buescher. "The biggest thing for me will be pitstops. I've two under my belt; that's it."
The two that Buescher was referring to were at Salem Speedway where he debuted with a solid fourth place finish back in April driving for the same Roulo Brothers Racing team.
"I've been over at Roush doing pitstop practice. I'm pretty comfortable getting in; I just need to be conscious about coming off - not stalling the car. That, and I think I need improvement on my restarts. Winning is certainly in the back of my mind, but in reality, I'm here to learn. If you get too hung up on winning, you'll get jammed up. It'll come eventually."
Buescher is also slated to drive the no. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing-DavidRagan.com Ford later this year at Berlin, Salem and the Rockingham finale.
"We've got the dirt races in the back of our minds along with Mansfield, but not sure. Don't know yet about Cayuga."
Weaver, who finished a career-best second at Nashville and Salem in 2005, is contracted with Cunningham Motorsports through the first eight races of 2009 with options to continue from there. His best Toledo finish was eighth in 2006. He also finished a career-best third in championship driver points in 2005.
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend's race," added Weaver. "We're just trying to get me comfortable in the car, make sure everything in the car fits, brakes work. We want to get closer to a baseline so when we come back we don't have to search all over for it.
"We're going to test all afternoon and figure this thing out - whatever it takes. My line is inconsistent; my entries are inconsistent. I've been tight in the center no matter if I miss the corner or not. Fortunately, Paul is real good at weeding through my inconsistencies."
ARCA RE/MAX Series practice is scheduled from 12:30 to 2:00 PM Saturday, May 16 with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 3:30. The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series K-100 is scheduled to start at 5:00 Saturday afternoon. Pre-race ceremonies for the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care begin at 1:15 Sunday, May 17 followed by the 200-lap race at 2:15.
Toledo Speedway is located at 5639 Benore Rd., Toledo OH, near the intersection of I-75 and Alexis Road. For more information, please call ARCA at (734) 847-6726, or Toledo Speedway at (419) 727-1100.