Tuesday, June 08, 2010

SPORTS>>Weaver sitting pretty in points

Leader sportswriter

The Big Show is going for three in a row.

Randy Weaver leads the modified-points standings at Beebe Speedway and at I-30 Speedway after winning track championships at both tracks last year. He also won the IMCA state modified championship, the second of his career, in 2009.

Weaver, nicknamed “Big Show,” has won a total of four modified championships at Beebe, including the past two seasons.

Weaver resides in Little Rock, but his affiliation with the Beebe-based Fox Racing Team has made him a favorite of local fans since he joined the team in 2003.

With four victories in eight starts, Weaver’s dominance at Beebe has shown no signs of deterioration in the first half of this season.

“We’ve had a pretty good season so far,” Weaver said. “We started out with a couple of wins and then kind of wenton a dry spell at both Beebe and I-30. We’ve had a good car about every night; we’ve been going to the front. You can’t ask for a better car.”

The plan for this year is more of the same for Weaver and the Fox team. They will run weekly at both I-30 and Beebe with the occasional trip to Batesville Speedway in Locust Grove, which became an IMCA-sanctioned track for modifieds this year.

“If you want to win a state championship this year, you’re going to have to run Batesville, because they’re IMCA sanctioned too,” Weaver said. “I’m not sure if we’ll make it up there to get the state championship or not, but we’ll probably run at Beebe and I-30 and try to get some of those track championships.”

The only other driver to win multiple modified features this season at Beebe is talented young Vilonia driver Curtis Cook. Weaver was in contention to deny Cook a second modified victory two weeks ago in an intense three-car battle along with North Little Rock veteran driver Mike Bowers.

But a late slip by Bowers cost Weaver the race.

“We had great race,” Weaver said. “I was running the top line, and I caught Bowers. I don’t know if he had a flat or something — he got loose and kind of collected me at the end. Me, Bowers and Cook had a great race. It was three-wide racing — it was awesome.

“I had a bunch of fans tell me it was the best modified race they’ve seen in a long time.”

With Bowers making limited appearances at Beebe, the disappearance of longtime competitors such as Chuck McGinty and Charlie Armstrong, and the recent struggles of former state champ Donnie Stringfellow have allowed Cook to emerge as Weaver’s primary adversary over the two seasons.

The two vary greatly in their driving styles and philosophies, which has made for some heated moments on the track and in the pits. Still, Weaver said there is no reason to believe the rivalry will turn bitter, even with the he-said, she-said debates that tend to percolate on local racing message boards anytime there is an altercation between two drivers.

“We had a couple of races there where we didn’t see eye to eye,” Weaver said. “I’m a guy that doesn’t like to tear my car up, and he’s the same way. I was a little hot that one night, and I’m sure he was too.

“I saw it one way; he saw it another way. That’s just how it goes. That’s just racing. Last week, we were racing inches apart and never touched. The Internet doesn’t make it any better. People start talking on the Internet. I’m not that kind of guy.”

Regional late models have enjoyed resurgence in popularity over the past five years, and now there are even touring modified divisions across the country. But for Weaver and crew, there’s still no place to win like home.

“We’re pretty much happy with modifieds,” Weaver said. “We don’t travel much. I’ve got kids, and the Fox family lives nine miles from here, so they go racing here. We like to support our local tracks, and we’ve got families, so it’s hard to travel.”