Bryan Silas Earns The Nickname “Iron Man” In Talladega
Topics: Bryan Silas, ARCA RE/MAX 250
TALLADEGA, Alabama (October 9, 2007) - - For the second consecutive year at Talladega Superspeedway, ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie-of-the-Year Bryan Silas’s trip to the 2.666-mile speedway was filled with excitement. Although this year, Silas endured all new obstacles.
Driving for two-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Andy Hillenburg, Silas returned to the Alabama track looking for improvement on their extensive two day test the week before the race. By the end of the first practice it appeared the hard work had paid off.
In the first practice session of the weekend, Silas in his No. 11 Nortrax-Shell Rotella T-Palm Beach Grading (PBG) Ford Fusion clicked off the 14th fastest lap after tackling the track in 51.636 seconds at 185.452 MPH. “We drafted a little,” Silas chuckled following the session. Honestly we had to know what we had. We made so many changes from the test last week we wanted to know what we were up against. I think we’re going to be fine.”
Silas also noted, “I don’t think our car will go as fast as we want on our qualifying run, but we’re going to give it a shot. We may surprise ourselves.”
During his two lap hustle around Talladega during ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying, Silas posted a lap of 53.428 seconds at 179.232 only good enough for 40th fastest. The team would have to rely on a provisional to earn them a starting position in the 45th event held at Talladega Superspeedway. The team would roll off 36th for the ARCA RE/MAX 250.
“We knew our car wasn’t going to be very good in qualifying, I didn’t have any idea we were going to be that far off the pace,” Silas noted. “I honestly believed we were going to have a good setup for qualifying, but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We’re in the main show and that’s the primary goal. There’s only one way to go during the race, up.”
Electing to participate in the final practice session leading up to the 94 lap event, Silas posted a distracting time. After working his way around the speed plant during happy hour, the Stuart, Florida native was only able to produce a lap time of 53.357 seconds at 179.470 MPH putting the Fast Track Racing machine 28th on the run down.
“We weren’t able to get with the main group,” sounded Silas. “We hardly did any drafting and it played an effect on final practice. Hopefully we can bounce back and run like we did in the first practice on Thursday.”
At the start of the ARCA RE/MAX 250, Silas tried to immediately maneuver himself into the lead draft only to be stalled by a slower car on the initial start.
Unable to get in touch with the lead group, Silas ducked in with fellow competitors Gabi DiCarlo and Josh Krug and the three drafted for nearly thirty laps before the first caution flag waived on lap 30.
During the first yellow flag of the day, Silas brought his machine down to pit road for tires and fuel while also making a minor adjustment hoping to help the handling of his Ford Fusion.
Silas’s helmet malfunctioned during the yellow flag; little did he know it would affect him later on during the race.
Back to green flag conditions, Silas made his march towards the front, Silas was able to maneuver himself through the lead pack. With the tight drafting that Talladega offers, your position changes within seconds. That statement lived up to its mark with the No. 11 being swung all around the leader board.
Safely in the top-25 just past the halfway mark, Silas made his final trip to pit road during a multi-car incident on lap 53. With the group performing solidly on pit road, Silas restarted in the top-20.
During the last quarter of the event while running in the top-25, Silas began to feel ill. Noticing that his helmet cooler had shut off, Silas quickly began dehydrating while still giving 150 percent behind the wheel of the race.
Before the last caution of the race during an incident involving the No. 47 of Phillip McGilton, Silas was driving hard but also started throwing up at the same time. On the restart following McGilton’s spin Silas would endure the same circumstances all over again. Tucking in behind the No. 47 Ford of McGilton, Silas would pick off several positions while still dealing with the vomiting.
With the never give up attitude, Silas overcame his illness to cross the line 22nd. After the event Silas parked his machine and climbed out before being met by ARCA RE/MAX Series officials who transported Silas to the infield care center where Silas was rehydrated and later released.
“It was an interesting race that’s for sure,” explained Silas who had been nicknamed the “Iron Man for his heroic efforts on Friday. “I guess my helmet stopped blowing cool air around lap 30 and I encountered Carbon-Monoxide Poisoning. I was driving down the backstretch looking at the car ahead of me and the fumes got so bad I threw up before going into the corner. Our car wasn’t the greatest today, but we did okay. We finished the race and the car wasn’t on a rollback so I was happy about that, I just wished we would have finished a little higher. We’ll just go get them in Toledo .”
Feeling relaxed Silas woke up on Saturday morning ready to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) debut at Talladega Superspeedway. Qualifying 32nd on Friday before the ARCA race, Silas was hoping to learn a lot in the race.
At the start of the Mountain Dew 250, Silas immediately fell into the team’s pre-race strategy of falling into the back of the lead pack.
On lap six, the first caution flag waived for an incident with Mike Bliss and Jason White. During the caution on lap eight, Silas reported to his crew that he was holding back and the truck was drafting great.
On the restart, Silas would try to remain with the lead draft but Silas quickly radioed to his team that he had been brake checked. The incident caused Silas to lose touch with the main group, but he did fall into a small pack of trucks with Jacques Villeneuve and another competitor.
During the long span of green flag racing, the main pack hosted by a truck of over 25 competitors was quickly gaining ground on Silas. They eventually caught the smaller group taking Silas off the lead pace. The NCTS rookie stayed with the pack hoping to be in contention for the “lucky dog.”
On lap 53, Villeneuve took a hard turn to the right coming off of turn four colliding with Silas and T. J. Bell. The No. 71 Rockingham Speedway Chevrolet Silverado was damaged severely but Silas climbed from his machine and returned to the garage frustrated but uninjured.
“I don’t know what to say,” Silas said. “It’s a bad deal all the way around. We were doing everything we need to do. We lost a lap, but we had a fast enough truck where we could have gained it back. I don’t know what Jacques was thinking. He just abruptly turned right and it took out some good trucks. It wasn’t the finish we wanted to have for the Rockingham Speedway Silverado, but we’ll just pick up the pieces and try to head to the next event.”
Silas will run in two more NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events this season with the races being announced at a later date.
The 20-year old driver will return to racing action this Sunday at Toledo Speedway for the running of the Hantz Group 200 presented by Belle Tire, the season finale for the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
NAME: Chris Knight, Fast Track Racing
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