Rougemont, NC ( June 17 ) If you asked Ricky Bryant for his thoughts on running all 375 laps in the ASA AC Delco Series and NASCAR Goody's Dash Series race on Saturday night about all he could utter was " Whew!" Bryant and his B/G Motorsports...
Rougemont, NC ( June 17 ) If you asked Ricky Bryant for his thoughts on running all 375 laps in the ASA AC Delco Series and NASCAR Goody's Dash Series race on Saturday night about all he could utter was " Whew!"
Bryant and his B/G Motorsports teammates completed the biggest day in their 5 year history by successfully competing in his first ASA AC Delco Series in Cedar Rapids, IA, Saturday afternoon and then flying back to North Carolina , arriving one hour before the race, to climb in his # 5 Washington Apples - Kroger's Pontiac Sunfire and finishing 2nd in the Goody's Dash Series race at Orange County Speedway at Rougemont, NC. Bryant came within one position of winning his 3rd straight Dash race at Orange County Speedway.Bryant had one thing in mind at the end of his long day.
"I would really like to thank my team for making this all possible for me. We are not a team with deep pockets, and we had to have 2 full teams in place to get the job done today.It was a stretch but I had confidence in the guys that we could actually pull this off".
Pull it off they did with Bryant able to complete every lap in both the ASA and Dash Series races and bring home a respectable 20th place finish for his first ASA race and then managing a 2nd place finish in the Dash race. By finishing 2nd in the Dash race Bryant was able to keep his team's championship hopes alive in the Dash Series. Bryant was able to close the gap to 47 points between him and series point leader Robert Huffman. Huffman finished 12th Saturday night. Bryant now has 6 top five finishes and 7 top ten finishes in the first 8 Dash races of 2000, and he is averaging a 6.6 place finishing position.
The entire weekend started out for Bryant when he flew to Cedar Rapids, IA. on Thursday night. Ricky was in his ASA car on Friday morning for the first of 2 one hour practice sessions at the legendary ½ mile Hawkeye Downs Speedway. Other than about 20 laps at Nashville, and a 3 hour test at Tri County Speedway (Hudson, NC ) these were Ricky's first laps in the ASA car.
Nashville was supposed to be Bryant's first ASA race, however rain cancelled Bryant's chance to compete. After those first two practices however Bryant was not a happy racer " We are really struggling to find the right setup here. The new Vortec V8 engine, all the teams run, really levels the playing field, but it also puts a premium on the right setup, and we just have not found out what we need to have on the car". Bryant was 15th fastest out of 46 cars in the morning practice, but could only manage 30th fastest in the afternoon session. All of which left Bryant scratching his head, "I feel we are going to be really good, but we just need more time to figure this out.Once you get to this level everyone is fast".
That fact was illustrated by the fact that only 1 second separated all 46 ASA cars in attendance competing for the 34 starting positions. When it came time to qualify Bryant was able to pick it up a little by qualifying 27th out of the 46 cars. In the ASA Series the top 20 times are locked in for the race, and the remainder of the positions are filled through a 100 lap qualifying race. Bryant started 3rd in the qualifier and brought his # 35 Van Camp's Beans Pontiac Grand Prix home 5th to guarantee him his first ASA start. Ricky commented, "We really wanted to take it nice and easy in this race, get in the field, and use the race as a 100 lap practice session" That is exactly what Ricky and the B/G Motorsports team did. On Saturday afternoon Bryant and his Van Camp's team, starting 29th, employed pretty much the same strategy. "We wanted to gain some respect from the veteran ASA drivers, give Van Camp's Beans some good exposure and try to run every lap. If I can bring the car home in one piece and get a respectable finish I will be happy", Ricky commented. That is exactly what Bryant did finishing a respectable 20th in his first ASA experience.
Sitting in his driver's seat, after the race, Ricky's only comment was simply "I'm beat ". Then it was off to the airport for the 2 hour flight back to North Carolina. Ricky and 3 of his key team members were in the air 30 minutes after the checkered flag fell on the Wold's Best Buy.com 250 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway. They landed at Person County Airport, in Roxboro, NC, one hour before the green flag for the Dash race and made the 10 minute drive to Orange County Speedway successfully.
At 8:30 PM Bryant buckled into his Washington Apples Pontiac and turned his thoughts to the Dash race. Ricky wanted to stay focused above all else. "Having a shot at a championship before we go onto ASA in 2001 is very important to this team. We feel we can win it, and we are going to give it everything we got".
That is exactly what Ricky did in his second race of the day. He avoided the carnage of several major wrecks and brought home a 2nd place finish to end the day. Saturday night's Dash race saw half the field eliminated by wrecks, the most serious of which saw Scott Weaver on his roof before barrel rolling 7 or 8 times down the front straightaway and landing on his wheels. Weaver was unhurt. At the end of the race Ricky went on to say, "The car was loose all night, and my motor was really lacking tonight. We are going to put a new one in for Lousiville. We did not have the car to win tonight so I am very pleased with a 2nd place finish and picking up 43 points as well."
After changing out of his suit Bryant took a couple minutes, to reflect on his day,before he sprinted across the track to meet his wife Lynn, and baby daughter, "I am pretty amazed that we were able to pull this off. I had the confidence we could do it but there were so many things out of our control. I never had a doubt though that my team would put me in a position to get the job done. Most of our crew are still volunteer help who has to go back to work Monday morning. They have done everything that was asked of them these past couple weeks. I owe everything to my owners and my team. It was a great experience I will never forget. Down the road I know this is going to help us as we pursue this championship and in getting ready for the ASA Series in 2001." Then Ricky was off for some much needed rest and family time. In all Bryant competed in 3 races this weekend, and ran a total of 475 laps of competition in both his ASA and Dash cars. The next race for Bryant and his Washington Apple team is the Pronto Auto Parts 125, at Lousiville Motor Speedway ( Louisville,Ky.) on Saturday night June 24th. For more information on Ricky Bryant, and B/G Motorsports, you may go to the following websites: www.bestapples.com