Victory in Music City Sounds Sweet for Wimmer, Holiday Inn Racing
Race/Date: Pepsi 300 – March 22, 2008
Location: Nashville Superspeedway – Lebanon, Tenn.
Start Position: 14th
Finish Position: First
Owner’s Point Standing: Fourth (Gained three spots)
Scott Wimmer used every ounce of fuel to drive the Holiday Inn Chevrolet to Victory Lane in Saturday’s Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeeday and score his first highly coveted Gibson guitar trophy – a custom-made Les Paul axe designed specifically for the winners at the 1.33-mile concrete oval.
Wimmer spent most of the race stalking the leaders and eventually made the winning pass with 20 laps remaining in the 225-lap event. The win marked his first NASCAR Nationwide Series checkered flag with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and sixth overall. The Wausau, Wis., native last visited Victory Lane in July 2003 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain Colo., a span of 57 races. It also marks the first win for a driver not competing full time in the Cup Series this season and the first since Jason Leffler won at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis in July 2007.
Meanwhile, RCR’s No. 29 team also gained three spots in the NASCAR Nationwide Series owners’ championship point standings and sits 49 markers behind leader Kevin Harvick Incorporated’s No. 33 machine. The strong run was Wimmer’s first top-five finish in three starts this season.
In Saturday morning’s time trials, the 32-year-old driver navigated the suburban Nashville speedway in 29.816 seconds (160.947 mph), posting the 14th-fastest qualifying time.
When the green flag waved in front of an estimated 34,500 race fans, Wimmer had his sights on the leaders and quickly made his way through the field but informed crew chief Pat Smith the Holiday Inn Chevrolet had a slightly loose-handling condition. By lap 20, he was 12th and sixth 50 laps in. Eight laps later he powered to the fifth position.
The second caution flag waved on lap 59 for debris on the track and the field headed to pit road. Wimmer brought his green and blue Chevy to the pits for four fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to the Holiday Inn Chevy. Lightning-fast work by the over-the-wall crew notched their driver two spots on pit road. He returned to the track third when the field went back to green on lap 64.
While he maintained the third position over the next 30 laps, Wimmer informed his crew that the Holiday Inn Chevy was fast but still needed more grip.
Green-flag pit stops began on lap 122 and Wimmer took over the top spot on lap 125 as the leaders peeled off the racing surface. Four laps later, he brought his green and blue machine down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment. He returned to the track and was scored in the third position on lap 133 as green-flag service through green-flag stops.
The final caution flag waved on lap 156 and the field make the left turn on to pit road. Smith called for four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment to the left-rear tire.
Wimmer went back to green in the third position on lap 160, a few laps shy of the team’s pre-determined fuel window. The six-time NASCAR Nationwide Series winner quickly went to work moving back into the lead. On lap 163, leader Kyle Busch lost control of his No. 20 machine and gave up the top spot to Wimmer’s RCR teammate Clint Bowyer.
With less than 30 miles remaining in the 300-mile event, Wimmer made his bid for the lead. Smith knew the Holiday Inn Chevy was tight on fuel and told his driver to conserve fuel when possible.
Wimmer crossed the finish line first and Bowyer finished second for an RCR one-two finish. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kelly Bires rounded out the top five. Wimmer’s fellow teammate Stephen Leicht finished 12th.
The Nationwide Series enjoys a weekend off before heading to the Lone Star State in two weeks.
Jeff Burton will be behind the wheel of the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet for the O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the event will be televised live on ESPN2 Saturday, April 5 beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The seventh race of the 2008 season will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network (PRN) and Sirius Satellite Radio.
SCOTT WIMMER QUOTE:
“This win is just unbelievable. Last year, I felt like I let a few races get away from me and Nashville was one of them. We would lead a lot of laps and just not be there at the end. Today, the Holiday Inn crew did a great job. We were probably a third-place car until that last pit stop got me tightened up a little bit. I was sitting behind Clint (Bowyer) and I wasn’t sure what the 20 car was doing. I was using up a lot of my tires to get around that lapped car and fortunately he got out of the way and let me challenge Bowyer for the lead and eventually the win.”
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