Weatherman Caught Up in Leader’s Wreck at Halfway Point
Marne, MI – August 7, 2016 – Chase Briscoe, the ARCA Racing Series current championship points leader, had won the four most recent races at Winchester Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway and Pocono Raceway. On Saturday, August 6, he was trying to add to his ARCA Series history book status by winning his fifth consecutive race at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan.
With Briscoe leading both practice sessions, it appeared to be a good possibility that he would accomplish his goal at Berlin Raceway. As qualifying was complete, Briscoe found himself with the 9th starting spot…after he almost looped his Big Tine No. 77 Ford during his qualifying lap.
On the green flag Briscoe struggled with the set-up underneath him. On his first pit stop of the night, the pit crew bolted on right side tires and filled the Ford with fuel. Those adjustments didn’t improve the handling for Briscoe and he remained barely in the top-10. As the caution came out just past the halfway point for a wreck among the leaders, Briscoe’s crew prepared for his arrival in the pits. They gave him four fresh General Tires, fuel and numerous adjustments….in hopes that the No. 77 would respond.
As the green flew, Briscoe knew that crew chief Chad Bryant had hit on a set-up that would allow him to contend for his fifth win in a row. After starting fifth on lap 118, Briscoe worked his way to the front…battling for the lead on lap 182. After making a couple of attempts to take the lead from Josh Williams, Briscoe gave the lead back to Williams. In an after-race interview he explained, “I got into (turn) three too hot…got into his (Williams) door and passed him, but I gave it back to him. Got into him again and gave the spot right back.”
Still in a tight battle for the lead, Briscoe got under Williams to take the lead near the start/finish line. Briscoe explains what happened next, “Once I passed him, I knew I was going to get hit down in one and two. Then coming off two, I felt like he ran me out off the track.” On the backstretch, which has no backstretch fence, Williams (who had been running in the low lane) pushed Briscoe up to the very edge of the track…into the marbles and the dirt outside of the track. Briscoe, with plenty of dirt track experience, held onto his car and managed to come back on track in the third spot.
With some visible left front damage, Briscoe was able to salvage a second place finish with a car that had lost most of its handling due to the off-track excursion. In spite of losing his bid to add his name to the ARCA Series record books as a winner of 5 wins-in-a- row, Briscoe has increased his points lead to an unofficial 450 points.
With six races remaining in the 2016 season, Briscoe still has time to enter the history books by winning five or six in a row!
Clayton Weatherman – Weatherman, who was making his debut with the Cunningham Motorsports No. 22 team, practiced in the top-10… before qualifying fifth. After starting fifth, Weatherman lost a couple of spots, as he fought a tight condition. He radioed to crew chief Paul Andrews as the first caution flag flew on lap 50 that his Ford was tight. As Andrews called his driver to the pits, he had right side General Tires and fuel waiting for him. Weatherman felt the car was more to his liking, but he remained locked in 7th or 8th. Just past halfway, while running in 8th, Weatherman couldn’t avoid the wrecking cars of leaders Tom Hessert and John Wes Townley.
Suffering near-fatal damage, Weatherman limped into the pits where his crew worked feverishly to change the radiator. Sending him back on the track with what appeared to be a demolition derby Ford, Weatherman was able to salvage a finish of 14th.
After climbing out of the damaged No. 22, the disappointed 17 year old commented, “We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time! We had a wreck happen right in front of us and we just couldn’t slow down fast enough to miss it. I think our car was good enough to compete for the win, but that’s racing. I can’t thank my dad, Briggs (Cunningham), Kerry (Scherer) and Paul (Andrews) enough for giving me this opportunity to race for them! Hope we can do it again with them sometime.”
Next Race – With an off-week (at least from the race track!), the Cunningham teams plan to test at a couple of tracks before returning to the track on Sunday, August 21. The Central Illinois SuperChevyStores.com 100 at the 1-mile Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois will see the iconic Ken Schrader join Briscoe as his teammate.