Nadeau Survives Track, No Communication In 18th place Run At NHIS ...
Nadeau Survives Track, No Communication In 18th place Run At NHIS
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Jerry Nadeau spent most of Sunday's race on the treacherous surface of New Hampshire International Speedway without the ability to talk to his spotter or his crew chief.
Throw in the fact that Nadeau endured brake problems and it figured to be a very long day for the Danbury, Conn. native on the mile oval.
But it was a good day.
Nadeau led about 35 laps, sported one of the fastest cars and appeared headed for at least a top ten finish until he was shuffled out of the pack in the closing laps and crossed the finish line in 18th.
Still, Nadeau wanted even more.
"The car was good enough to win. But, when you don't have any communication between the crew chief and the driver (lost radio communication), what are you going to do? I had no spotter the last 100 laps (lost radio communication). It's just a tough deal."
Nadeau started the race in 15th and moved up to 10th. Then a lap 60 near collision with members of the Kurt Busch crew slowed the pit stop to 19 seconds and dropped Nadeau back to 26th.
That's when Crew Chief James Ince embarked on his own pit stop strategy that called for topping off the Valvoline Pontiac at the next caution. Although Nadeau dropped back to about 31st he reclaimed all those positions when he moved to second on lap 129 by not pitting while others did.
"Jerry you will have to drive fast and smart and just make sure you keep the fenders on it," said Ince while the team still had communications with Nadeau. "This could all work out into our favor at the end of the race."
Nadeau quickly passed eventual winner Ward Burton and claimed the lead for 12 laps - the first laps led of the season for the Valvoline Pontiac. While holding the lead, Nadeau turned some of the fastest times on the track.
"Everything was pit strategy - getting guys up front," he said. "We led some laps today. We used some good pit strategy."
Nadeau returned to the pits on lap 124 and dropped back to 24th place, but once again he climbed back to the front by not pitting on lap 160. He led 23 laps on this stint and only Matt Kennseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed him on the track.
"We were looking pretty good then," he said. "I thought for sure we would end up with at least a top five finish."
Nadeau came back to the pits on lap 190 and returned to the track in 18th. He worked his way up to 11th and took two tires on lap 234 while several others gambled on stretching their fuel mileage.
Unfortunately there were enough cautions in the closing laps to allow those gambling to finish the race without stopping. Nadeau's chance for a top 10 went away in the closing laps when the treacherous track that claimed so many victims allowed others to pass him when he slipped in a corner.
Throughout the day several drivers crashed because the pavement coming up during the race. Few had any compliments for the racing surface.
Nadeau joined the crowd of drivers voicing their displeasure. Seven cautions flew in the first 123 laps -- all for accidents.
"The track was absolutely junk. It's the worst racetrack I've ever raced on - no matter if I live up in New England or not. It's junk. I hate it. I love the Bahre family. They are great people. But, it's not a place to race on. The sealer was coming up. There were marbles. They had to sweep it every 20 laps and then the first three laps...everybody was absolutely all over the place. You couldn't get any grip. It just wasn't a good racetrack to race on."
Considering the obstacles he overcame it wasn't a bad day for Nadeau who is substituting for the injured Johnny Benson who broke three ribs at Daytona. The Valvoline team is expected to evaluate Benson this week and setting a schedule for his return to racing.