Fellows Suffers a Disappointing 30th-place Finish from Last-lap Incident at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 16, 2011) – After a rain delay on Sunday, Ron Fellows started the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen from the 38th position on Monday morning. The Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team worked on the handling of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet for the 90-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event. While racing in a green-white-checker situation, David Ragan and Boris Said made contact and collected Fellows in the aftermath. Fellows was treated and released from the care center and had to settle for a 30th-place finish.
Fellows posted the 34th-fastest time in first practice and the 40th-quickest time in final practice. The TBR team worked on the setup before qualifying, and the road-course ringer posted the 38th-fastest time although the handling was better. Ready to race on Sunday, Fellows had to wait until Monday morning due to rain.
The Canadian racer took the green flag for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen from the 38th position and in the first lap, moved up 10 spots to the 28th position. He continued his trek forward in the next laps and moved to 23rd place when the field began green flag stops on lap six. Fellows radioed that the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was a little too harsh in the rear. He drove up to 21st before Crew Chief Phillipe Lopez called Fellows onto pit road for a fuel-only stop on lap nine.
The Golden Corral Chevrolet returned to the track in the 38th position. The three-time American Le Mans Series GT Drivers Champion explained to the crew that the Chevrolet lost all of its side bite. Despite the handling condition, he worked up to 28th spot by lap 26 but was unfortunately passed by the leader. Luckily, a caution was called on lap 29, and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet received the Lucky Dog. Fellows used the yellow-flag condition as an opportunity to elaborate the car’s handling. He explained that the car was not very good in the bus stop or turn five. The Chevrolet had a huge push in turn five and did not have enough side bite to be fast in the bus stop.
Back on the lead lap, Fellows drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet down pit road for a four-tire pit stop. The TBR team made an air pressure, trackbar and spring adjustment to help give the Chevrolet side bite. The 51-year-old restarted 26th on lap 32. He wheeled the Golden Corral Chevrolet to the 21st spot by lap 43 and radioed that the car was better but still needed more side bite. He moved into the 18th position by the second caution when Kurt Busch hit the turn five wall on lap 50.
Lopez called his driver down pit road for another four-tire pit stop and an air pressure and trackbar adjustment. Twenty cars stayed out on the racetrack, and Fellows restarted 25th on lap 53. He once again told the crew that the Golden Corral Chevrolet did not have side bite. As some of the field took green-flag pit stops, Fellows drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet up to the third spot.
Another caution was called for Denny Hamlin in turn one on lap 67. Fellows explained that the right was really harsh and the car still lacked side bite and was tight in turn five. He pit on lap 67 for four tires and a wedge and air pressure adjustment. The field went back to green on lap 70 with the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet in the 22nd spot. He fell to 26th by lap 83 and told the crew that the changes did not help. He continued that the car carried too much momentum when diving in a straight line and was loose.
Paul Menard hit the wall on the backstretch, and the fourth yellow flag waved on lap 87. In an effort to fix the handling problem for the final laps, Lopez called Fellows back down pit road. The team changed four tires and made another air pressure adjustment.
The road-course veteran restarted on lap 91 in the 29th position for a green-white-checker finish. Coming to the final lap, Said and Ragan made contact going into turn two, which sent the No. 6 car spinning. While spinning, Ragan clipped the rear of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet, sending it into a spin as well. Fellows then hit the front left on the No. 6 and then went soaring into the wall. With the No. 36 damaged and stopped in turn two, Fellows radioed to the crew that he was okay after catching his breath for a moment. He was taken to the infield care center and treated and released.
The incident relegated Fellows to a 30th-place finish, one lap down. The No. 36 Godlen Corral Chevrolet is still 32nd in NSCS Owner Points, 73 points behind the No. 34 in 31st. The team is two points ahead of the No. 13 in 33rd and 49 points ahead of the 36th spot held by the No. 7.
“It was disappointing to finish the way we did,” explained Fellows. “We were really good during the middle run. It was really fun racing in the middle there. Then, we lost the handling again. At the end, I was behind the No. 7 when Boris, I guess, hooked David, sending him flying right into me. There just isn’t any need to be racing that way when you are back in 22nd place. That was as hard a hit as I have ever had since I started racing. I am real sore right now. It is going to take a few days rest to heal.”