HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Lira Motorsports photo —
ARCA Racing drivers Kyle Weatherman and David Levine concluded their 2015 seasons at Kansas Speedway last month.
Weatherman fell short of his second career win with a runner-up finish, while Levine finished eighth to cement fifth spot in the championship standings. Last Friday night, the two rookies were teammates in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami for both their series debuts. It was also the first-ever race for Lira Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Both drivers timed into the event during Keystone Light Pole Qualifying and took the green alongisde each other in Row 11.
Weatherman put the No. 58 Ford F-150 in 21st, with Levine picked up from the lone practice session in an event where four trucks went home, including second-generation driver Ross Kenseth and July Eldora runner-up Bobby Pierce.
“It was definitely a real big swing for us, considering where we were in the morning,” Levin told Race Chaser Online. “I think we were 26th or 27th on the speed chart which we wouldn’t be able to race our way in since we don’t have any points. We made a whole bunch of changes between practice and qualifying and we were able to race our way up and qualify ourselves in on speed, which was just a great feeling for me first time here and for this team in the Truck Series. It was a real great feeling to qualify.”
Levine ran as high as third on lap 88 in the Camping World Trucks season finale when most of the lead-lap trucks pitted for the final time during the race’s final caution. The No. 59 was one of six trucks that pitted 10 laps before, but got shuffled back to the back-end of the lead lap before finishing in 17th, a lap down to eventual race winner Matt Crafton.
“We really had a great race, was able to keep the truck clean all night,” Levine said. “Little by little, picked up, picked up. We were able to restart third on one restart. I think I learned more in those three laps there around everybody else than I had all season. It was a little hairy getting into [Turns] 1 and 2 and, with all these guys around me, how aero-sensitive these trucks are. If you get up unde rsomebody, you’re going to be tight. If you get kind of below somebody, you’re going to be wicked loose, couple that with old tires and couple of the series’ best. Me just trying to not get into Matt, Erik and Tyler’s way because they have a championship tonight.”
On the other hand, Weatherman had a quiet night at Homestead, finishing three laps down in 23rd in his series debut. Neither he or Levine turned a lap at the 1.5-mile track until Friday morning’s practice session.
“It was really cool, obviously, I made a few mistakes on pit road,” Weatherman said. “For myself, kind of being a little behind, learning these trucks, the track and the team. All in all, after we got going there for a little bit, we were running 10th-place speeds. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on pit road and it put us behind. That’s how it went on and we learned a lot and appreciate the opportunity.”
Homestead-Miami Speedway has multiple grooves drivers can run on the track since the facility was re-configured in 2003. Many ride around the wall to find the most speed in their race cars. NASCAR driver Kyle Larson likes the track because he can run the outside and make no mistake in the top lane.
“It’s weird. With the ARCA Racing Series this year, we were running, I guess you can call them the cookie-cutter mile-and-half’s: Kansas, Kentucky, Chicago,” Levine said. “Then you get here, the corners are a lot tighter and the straightaways are a lot longer. It was cool to run up at the fence. For me, the biggest thing I can compare this to is the half-mile bullring at Winchester [Speedway], running right up along the fence, sideways the whole day. It’s just Winchester, but a whole lot bigger.”
Those are only three 1.5-mile tracks ARCA runs on during their season. The series also visits superspeedways like Pocono, Michigan and both restrictor-plate tracks in Daytona and Talladega. In addition to the four tracks, the Camping World Truck Series also makes stops at Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas, just to name a few. The aero factor comes in with the trucks and the 2015 ARCA Rookie-of-the-Year described how the trucks handle.
“Just how aero-free they are and you have to drive through it,” Weatherman said about the trucks. “You can pedal it and put it by the fence and ride the wall. We learned a lot with aero, packing it in on the right side and making it work there. It was a lot learned and I appreciate the opportunity from Lira Motorsports and Carlos Lira and all those who put it together for me.”
“I think I learned the most about how to work the aero,” Levine said. “With these trucks, they’re basically big old bricks. If you’re four feet in front or behind somebody, it’s going to change the truck 100% percent. I just learned about how to work my racecraft better in order to work around the aero loose and aero tight.”
Lira Motorsports had two Ford trucks for the duo to get track time heading into 2016.
To listen to the extended cut of audio with both Kyle Weatherman and David Levine, click the players below:
Audio with Kyle Weatherman:
Audio with David Levine:
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is Race Chaser Online’s Associate Editor and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 22-year-old currently studies print journalism at Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
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