Chuck Weber, in the No. 24 Cardinal Tool Company Ford, earned his career first Pork Pole award Thursday with a fast time of 39.185 seconds (183.744 mph) around the 2.0-mile Michigan Int'l Speedway, placing him on the pole for Friday's Hantz Group 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race.
"We worked really hard in practice," said Weber. "Bob Schacht gave me a really good car this week. ARCA is like a family and will always be home."
In fact, with short turn around between last weekend's Pocono 200 at Pocono Raceway and this weekend¿s Hantz Group 200 at Michigan Int¿l Speedway, Weber utilized current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Bobby Gerhart¿s race shop, which is located in Pennsylvania, to prepare cars in between races.
Weber, who had posted the fifth quickest speed during a practice session Thursday morning, made his Pork Pole qualifying run early in the day but would not fall from the top of the speed chart.
Not even some well-founded teams utilizing both NASCAR technology and NASCAR talent could surpass Weber.
Scott Lagasse Jr., who is part of a driver development program for Chip Ganassi Racing, will start on the outside pole in Friday¿s Hantz Group 200 after posting a 183.150 mph lap in a No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge fielded by Cunningham Motorsports.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rookie David Stremme, who is competing in this weekend¿s ARCA RE/MAX Series event for Rusty Wallace Inc., qualified third with a time of 39.506 seconds (182.251 seconds).
"The car had to be setup a little bit different for qualifying," said Stremme. ¿So I know that we have more car for the race. I¿m excited to see what this Hantz Group Dodge can do.¿
ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie-of-the-Year contender Blake Bjorklund, in the No. 32 Red Line Synthetic Oil Dodge, qualified fourth with a speed of 182.163 mph (39.525 seconds).
¿It feels good to be in the top-five,¿ said Bjorklund. ¿My car was a little loose but strong. This Father¿s Day weekend is dedicated to my grandpa, who passed away almost a year ago. With his help, I am confident about tomorrow.¿
Evernham Motorsports developmental driver Erin Crocker, in the No. 98 Hamburger Helper Dodge, rounded out the top-five with a speed of182.113 mph (39.536 seconds), while seven-time and defending series champion Frank Kimmel, in the No. 46 Pork the Other White Meat Ford, will start sixth.
¿We were really behind the eight-ball heading into qualifying because we had an engine issue come up at the end of the practice session earlier,¿ said Kimmel. ¿Two spark plugs got hung and it took us the better part of qualifying to get them loose and then get through the tech line. We had to take only one lap of qualifying and we still picked up about a tenth of a second from where we were in the practice session. Our car is going to be real strong in the race and we are pretty pleased with the sixth place starting position. Of course we would have liked to earned the pole position, but we are in some real good company so I feel pretty confident with where we will be in the race tomorrow.¿
Jim and Larry Hollenbeck, both of Kalamazoo, Michigan, elected to qualify last as well. However, both drivers were unable to make the field via speed.
Early in Thursday¿s Pork Pole qualifying session, Greg Barnhart, in the No. 37 National Cash Lenders Chevrolet, crashed hard into the turn four wall. The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma driver was examined and released from the infield care center. Later during Pork Pole qualifying, Amhertsburg, Ontario, Canada¿s Terry Jones made contact with the turn two wall. He was uninjured and was able to drive his No. 30 Jones Group/Victaulic Dodge to the garage area.
Ryan Mathews, making his career-first start at Michigan Int¿l Speedway, will start seventh in Friday¿s Hantz Group 200 after posting a speed of182.099 mph in his No. 22 Eddie Sharp Racing Dodge.
¿We had a couple problems in practice but I¿d say we got them fixed for qualifying,¿ said Mathews. ¿It was a pretty
hectic day but I¿ll tell you what, I¿m excited about starting seventh tomorrow. The guys did a really good job of working on this car in practice, and getting it to where it is now. I think we¿ll have a pretty good car in the race too.¿
Brewco Motorsports¿ Brad Coleman, in the No. 62 Federated Car Care Ford, was eighth quickest (182.089 mph), while Josh Krug was ninth in the No. 74 Johnson Hardware Chevrolet (181.910 mph). Billy Wease, a Penske Racing protégé making his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut in a No. 27 Kodak Dodge, rounded out the top ten (181.681 mph).
The Hantz Group 200 rolls off at 5:15 pm on Friday. The race will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED.