Suspension Problems Slow Holiday Inn Team at Michigan International Speedway
Race/Date: CARFAX 250 – Aug. 16, 2008
Location: Michigan International Speedway -- Brooklyn, Mich.
Start Position: 13th
Finish Position: 22nd
Owner’s Point Standing: Fifth (lost one position)
A top-10 run by Scott Wimmer was derailed by suspension problems at the three-quarter mark of the CARFAX 250 and the No. 29 Holiday Inn Racing team was forced to settle for a 22nd- place finish at Michigan International Speedway.
Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Holiday Inn team fell one position, to fifth, in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series owners’ championship point standings, now 72 points out of fourth and 522 behind the leader.
The Wausau, Wis., native was the first of 47 competitors to roll onto the two-mile speedway in central Michigan’s Irish Hills. His quick lap of 39.509 seconds (182.237 mph) was good enough for the 13th starting position and he would line up on race day next to teammate Clint Bowyer who qualified 14th.
The 43-car Nationwide Series field took the green flag a few minutes before 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time under warm but partly cloudy skies. A first-lap caution slowed the field before it really had a chance to get going but racing resumed six laps later. Wimmer called in on lap 16 that the No. 29 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS was a bit tight exiting the corners but he still moved up to the 10th spot on the scoring pylon. Green-flag pit stops began on lap 42 and Wimmer came to the attention of the Holiday Inn crew two laps later. Air pressure adjustments were made to two of the four fresh Goodyear tires now on the car, as well as a full tank of gasoline, and the No. 29 was shown in the eighth position on lap 50.
The adjustments swung the car’s handling from tight to loose so, when a caution slowed the field on lap 52, crew chief Pat Smith brought Wimmer back down pit road for another round of adjustments. The team lost only one spot in the running order and was ninth when racing resumed on lap 58. Wimmer reported soon after that the car “feels pretty good” and he ran between ninth and 11th for the next 15 laps.
It was on lap 75 that Wimmer called in again to say that the car’s handling had all of a sudden become very loose. He lost a couple positions before calling in on lap 85 that he felt that the right-front tire might be losing air pressure. Smith brought him to pit road a lap later but an inspection showed that the tire was fully inflated. A few laps later Wimmer said that there was now a big vibration in the right-front suspension. Back-to-back trips down pit road on laps 94 and 95, fortunately under caution, allowed the Holiday Inn team the opportunity to look for something bent, broken, or out of place.
Nothing was found and, with the team receiving the lucky dog for being the first car one lap down to the leaders, Wimmer restarted on the lead lap. Unfortunately, the team was penalized for taking on fuel with one lap to go before the restart. Wimmer sat in his pit stall on lap 99 to serve a one-lap penalty and returned to the field in the 24th position.
The vibration persisted for the balance of the race but Wimmer was able to pick up two spots in the running order before the checkered flag waved.
Carl Edwards earned his third Nationwide Series victory of the season. The rest of the top-five finishers were Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle. Bowyer finished 10th and leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings by 113 over Edwards and 132 ahead of Brad Keselowski.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads next to the high-banked short track of Bristol Motor Speedway and one of the most anticipated race weekends of the year.
Live coverage of the Food City 250 will take the green flag Fri., Aug. 22, at 7:30 p.m. EDT with Wimmer again behind the wheel. The race will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio. Qualifying will be televised live on SPEED the same day at 5:05 EDT. MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will broadcast qualifying updates live.
SCOTT WIMMER QUOTE:
“We were actually running pretty well and then, all of a sudden, the Holiday Inn Chevy got real loose and we picked up a pretty bad vibration. Pat and the crew did a great job trying to figure out if something broke on the right-front (suspension) but it all seemed to be okay. We’ll have to get it back to the shop to find out what happened. The guys did a great job all weekend working on the car so I hate that we weren’t able to get a good finish.”
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