(NEWTON, Iowa - July 12, 2012) - After a likely top-10 finish was derailed in the most recent ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race at New Jersey Motorsports Park 11 days ago, Josh Williams and his Josh Williams Motorsports team return to the circuit refreshed and energized for Friday night's Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway.
The family-owned team is relying on a Ford Fusion that the team has nicknamed "Bertha" for their fourth top-10 finish of the season. The unique name for this race car doesn't come without a story. At the tender age of 16, Williams began working on this automobile with then-JWM crew chief Barry Owen and the duo built this machine from the ground up.
Williams, driver of the No. 02 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Ford Fusion, drove the car last year at the 0.875-mile Iowa track. After strong practice results lifted the spirit of the Port Charlotte, Fla. native, he battled a loose race car in qualifying, which dropped the teenager in an unwanted position for the start of the race. Once the green flag dropped, though, the No. 02 was on a mission. Like a jet with its afterburners at maximum power, the team quickly reached the top-10 only to be sidelined due to brake issues, relegating them to a 32nd-place finish.
Still, dubbed as one of the best Ford Fusions in their fleet of nine cars, "Bertha" will be back to life for the first time in 2012 and Williams hopes for an eye-catching performance under the Friday night lights.
"Obviously, this is a special race car to me," said Williams. "Barry (Owen) taught me a lot about the fundamentals of building a car, so if everyone thinks I'm a little overbearing to this car I feel like I have good reason to be. In all honesty, it's a strong car and we intentionally let it sit for this particular race. I feel that we had one of the strongest cars in the field last year, but circumstances beyond our control stopped us from showing that. From then, we've gone over Bertha with a fine-toothed comb making sure she's armed and ready for battle on Friday night.
"I like Iowa. Always have. It's a short track that allows space to race but still put on a good show between the other drivers for the fans. Last year, it was incredibly, unbearably hot - but we raced during the day. This year, it's a night race, so that's a little bit of a soothing feeling but we also know that will affect the way we work on the race car throughout the day. We'll practice and qualify during the day but I expect the track to change as night falls, so we just have to stay ahead of the game for that. Looking at the bigger picture, we're just hoping for a nice rebound from New Jersey and hope to put Bertha in the hunt."
Not only will Williams unveil one of his favorite rides for the first official night race of the 2012 season, but the 18-year old will also sport a new helmet signifying his involvement with RAD (Race Against Drugs). A slick Simpson helmet decked out in a stimulating and gasping design by Mooresville, N.C.-based Shell Shock, Williams will wear the helmet through the month of July before auctioning it off at the beginning of August with the proceeds being directly donated to the RAD program.
"This is something we've been putting together for a month or so," Williams said. "RAD is such a great program and their techniques really do help make you think before choosing a path you may not want to follow. I enjoy my affiliation with them and we hope to gain them some additional attention with our month-long tribute."
All on-track action for the Prairie Meadows 200 will take place tomorrow. Two practices are scheduled, from 10:30-noon and 1-2 p.m. Central. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will begin at 4, with the race set to start at 8 on SPEED. ARCARacing.com will provide live timing and scoring coverage of all on-track activity.
From Team Release