The crowd on hand at New Smyrna Speedway for “Fan Appreciation Night” applauded as Gio Scelzi climbed out of his Pro Late Model in victory lane on Night Three of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. However, the local fans let out an absolute roar when the second-place finisher emerged from his car, hands lifted in the air in celebration.
That’s because the second-place finisher was David Weaver, a Plantation, Florida native who embodies the underdog grassroots racer. On Sunday night, the underdog was on the podium.
David and his brother Steve are often found at the World Series during the month of February. However, Sunday’s finish marked the first time David Weaver had finished on the podium in any division at the World Series, according to TheThirdTurn.com. Weaver’s only prior top-five finish in a Pro Late Model came on the final night of racing for the division in 2018, when he finished fifth.
While many teams show up with brand-new cars and young, up-and-coming drivers looking for seat time during the nine-night tradition of speed at New Smyrna, the Weavers bring their tried-and-true cars, battle tested from many years at the Florida half-mile. There were few battles quite like Sunday’s Pro Late Model feature.
Weaver was the first to admit he was “just hanging on” during the chaotic Pro Late Model 35-lap race. Of course, that was partially due to the carnage around him, and partially due to running the same set of tires through the first three nights of racing at the World Series, ever mindful of his small racing budget compared to many of the teams he was facing.
“Man, this is incredible,” Weaver told Speed51 in victory lane. “I was just hanging on with 100-lap old tires. Just trying to do the best I could.”
The result seemed too good to be true, even for Weaver, who was overcome with joy as he stood on the frontstretch between winner Gio Scelzi and third-place finisher Connor Mosack.
“I can’t believe it. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
“Completely unexpected. I can’t believe it.”
Perhaps even sweeter than the second-place pay or the chance to be interviewed on the frontstretch, however, was the ovation Weaver received upon climbing out of his car. The Florida fans were eager to show their appreciation for the home state underdog, and the gesture was not lost on him.
“I think that’s probably the best thing about this,” said Weaver, pointing to the fans. “They got behind me. The underdog.”
The Pro Late Models will return to action on Tuesday, February 11 at New Smyrna Speedway after a night off, along with the Super Late Models, Tour-type Modifieds and Florida Modifieds. Speed51 will have Trackside Now coverage for fans unable to attend in person.
Fans can also check out Speedweeks Central for all of the latest news, videos and more from Florida Speedweeks.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo