Stremme Finishes a Rain Shortened Coke 600 in the 22nd Spot May 26, 2009 CONCORD, N.C. (May, 25, 2009) -- Driver David Stremme and the No.12 Penske Dodge team were looking to make it a dream weekend for team owner Roger Penske on Monday by ...
Stremme Finishes a Rain Shortened Coke 600 in the 22nd Spot May 26, 2009
CONCORD, N.C. (May, 25, 2009) -- Driver David Stremme and the No.12 Penske Dodge team were looking to make it a dream weekend for team owner Roger Penske on Monday by winning the longest race of the NASCAR Cup Series season at the Coca-Cola 600. After a historic performance on Sunday that saw Penske Racing capture a record 15th Indianapolis 500 victory in open-wheel racing, the Penske Dodge team hoped to grab even more glory with a stock car win at its home race.
Stremme started deep in the field at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but he felt the team had a car capable of competing for the victory. The race wound up shortened due to rain and Stremme brought the No. 12 Penske Dodge home in the 22nd position.
Crew chief Roy McCauley knew he would have to not only battle the 43-car field but also Mother Nature all day in order to have a strong finish. After being postponed on Sunday due to rain, the race was started under cloudy skies Monday afternoon and was slowed multiple times in the first 100 laps for rain. Once racing was underway, Stremme steadily made up ground with each passing lap. He radioed to his team on lap 37, explaining the car was loose-handling coming off the corners. McCauley told Stremme the team would make some adjustments to the No.12 Dodge Charger under the competition caution flag period, which came on lap 40.
Stremme rolled down the pit lane on lap 42 for service. The pit crew changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. They also made both a chassis adjustment and air pressure adjustment to the machine hoping to help the car's handling for the next green flag run.
The race returned to green flag conditions on lap 44 and Stremme found himself in the 32nd spot. He radioed his team three laps later saying the changes they made really helped the car and it showed on the scoring monitor. By lap 60, Stremme made it into the top-25 and was running top-10 lap times.
NASCAR displayed the red flag to the field on lap 73 because of a passing rain shower. When green flag racing resumed, Stremme was in the 22rd spot, making his way towards the front. He told McCauley the handling on car was getting looser as he ticked off laps. Stremme was using the high line to pass his competitors. By lap 150, he was running inside the top-20.
The pace was again slowed on lap 162 for weather. The team took the opportunity to come down pit road for service as it changed four tires and filled the car with fuel. The crew also made a wedge adjustment to the car. The No. 12 team did a great job picking up valuable spots on the pit lane.
The race was restarted on lap 177 and Stremme found himself in the 19th position. During the first 10 laps of the segment the car was a bit tight, but then took off. Stremme passed cars on both the high and low side of the track. He called his crew on lap 220 to relay that the car was running tight at both ends of the track, but the tight-handling condition was not hurting his lap times. The red caution flag was again displayed on lap 224 due to rain, bringing all the cars to pit road for the third time during the race.
NASCAR called the race official because of more rain in the area and Stremme finished in the 22nd spot.
"I hate we did not get to finish all 400 laps," commented Stremme. "[Crew chief] Roy McCauley made some changes before the last segment that really helped the car rotate. We had a top-15 car and I really wanted to finish. We had the car as good as it had been all day right there before the last red flag. You can't control the weather. "That moment of silence was awesome," added Stremme about the Memorial Day observance. "To see all the crew guys standing on the pit lane and all the fans in the stands remembering what this day is really about is just awesome. It is an honor to be a part of such a great sport with the best fans in the world."
The No. 12 Dodge team now sits 26th in the Cup Series driver point standings after 12 of 36 races.
David Stremme and the No.12 Penske Racing team move on to Dover International Speedway for next Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race.