Rain Washes Away Top-Five Finish for Wimmer, Holiday Inn Racing at Bristol
Race/Date: Sharpie Mini 300 – March 15, 2008
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Start Position: First
Finish Position: 12th
Owner’s Point Standing: Seventh (Dropped one spot)
Scott Wimmer and the Holiday Inn Racing Team showed signs of a dominant performance, leading twice and never running outside the top four, but an untimely rain shower led to a 12th-place finish in Saturday’s rain-shortened NASCAR Nationwide Series Sharpie Mini 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Rain showers moved into Western Tennessee Friday afternoon, forcing NASCAR to cancel qualifying for the third time in five races this season. The field was lined up, per rule, by the final 2007 owner’s point standings from last year. The reigning owners’ championship team was afforded the pole as a result.
The start of the scheduled 300-lap event was delayed two hours as Mother Nature soaked “Thunder Valley” again Saturday afternoon.
Wimmer led the field to green just after 4:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The Wausau, Wis., native was quick to inform crew chief Pat Smith that the Holiday Inn Chevrolet was a touch free but was coming to his liking.
He raced in the top four over the opening laps until NASCAR waved the yellow flag for a predetermined competition caution on lap 45. Smith called for four fresh tires, including an air pressure adjustment on the left-front tire, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
Back under green, still in fourth after quick service in the pits, the 32-year-old driver radioed to the crew that the handling on the green and blue Chevy was better but still needed to turn better.
Wimmer moved into third by lap 92 when the fifth caution flag was displayed for a spin in turn 1. Smith opted to keep his driver on the track as the leaders hit pit road. The call afforded his driver the lead.
The green flag waved on lap on lap 97 and Wimmer maintained the lead for 10 laps before relinquishing it to teammate Clint Bowyer as fresher tires prevailed.
Wimmer noted that the high line was running faster so on lap 138 he inched his No. 29 machine up the high-banked speedway but got loose in turn 1 and made slight contact with the wall. The hiccup moved him into the fourth position.
Just past the halfway point in the race, NASCAR brought out the caution for rain. Smith called his driver down pit road assuming the rain would quickly pass and the field would go back to green. The crew went to work bolting on four fresh Goodyear tires, with an air pressure adjustment, adding fuel and making another track bar adjustment.
Wimmer joined the field under caution, scored in the 12th position as many of the leaders opted to stay on the track. The red flag was displayed after a light sprinkle turned to heavy showers.
After a stoppage of approximately 47 minutes, NASCAR called the race with Wimmer scored 12th.
Wimmer’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Bowyer won the race, followed by Kasey Kahne. David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski. Mike Bliss rounded out the top-five. Fellow teammate Bobby Labonte finished 29th.
Next week, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Music City for round six on the 35-race tour.
The Pepsi 300 from Nashville Superspeedway will take the green flag Saturday, March 22, with Wimmer behind the wheel of the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Race coverage will be televised live on ESPN Saturday, March 22, beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius Satellite Radio.
SCOTT WIMMER QUOTE:
“It was nice starting up front and that is a testament to the hard work that the Holiday Inn Racing team did last year by winning the owners’ championship. Traffic is pretty crazy here at Bristol and we just had to deal with lapped cars for most of the day. We misjudged the weather here at the end. Pat (crew chief Pat Smith) made the call to come to pit road because we were hurting on tires so I came in to get some new ones. When guys behind you have them then you need to have them. We just didn’t forecast the weather right and thought the rain would pass quickly. If the race had gone green then it would have played in our favor but it didn’t so it ended up hurting us. It was still a good day for us.”
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