Fellows Finishes 15th at Infineon Raceway A bit of bad timing potentially cost Ron Fellows and the DLP HDTV team a victory in the Toyota/SaveMart 350k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the Infineon Raceway road course in Sonoma, ...
Fellows Finishes 15th at Infineon Raceway
A bit of bad timing potentially cost Ron Fellows and the DLP HDTV team a victory in the Toyota/SaveMart 350k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the Infineon Raceway road course in Sonoma, Calif.
Fellows, who was driving in place of Tony Raines, finished 15th in the 110-lap event.
After starting 11th, Fellows had moved up to 10th by the ninth lap when the second caution came out for Sterling Marlin's stalled car. Crew chief Brandon Thomas called for Fellows to pit for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The pit stop moved the DLP team back to 31st, but it was no cause for concern since every team seemed to use a different pit-stop strategy for the race on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course.
Fellows was up to 18th by Lap 31 as other teams began to make pit stops according to their fuel strategy. Soon, Fellows was in the top-three and by Lap 41 was leading the event.
However, as he was about to pit on Lap 43, NASCAR officials called a caution for debris.
"We were running in the top-five and then led a little bit," Fellows said. "Then, as is my luck, the lap that we were going to pit it went yellow, and we pitted and went all the way back to 38th. There was debris in (Turn) 10 and apparently there was debris in the front straight. I saw what was in (Turn) 10 and I should have pitted. That's a call that a driver sometimes has to make and I should have just dove into the pits, but oh well.
"The DLP guys had a decent strategy and a good plan. We never really recovered from that."
Despite the major setback, all was not lost as the team raced back to 23rd by Lap 66 when Reed Sorenson crashed and brought out a caution. Thomas decided to have Fellows pit for fuel only and told his driver to conserve as much fuel as possible in order to make it to the 110-lap mark without another stop.
Assuming Fellows could save fuel and there was another caution or two, the road racing specialist quite possibly could have made it to the end.
It was a pretty good assumption that a caution or two would come out, considering that since 2000, there have been two caution periods past the 70-lap mark every year except for 2000 and 2002, which only featured one caution past the 70-lap mark.
Unfortunately for the DLP team in 2007, there were zero cautions after the 70-lap mark.
Despite the fact that Fellows had worked his way back up to the ninth, he had to pit again on Lap 100 for less than two seconds worth of fuel in order to make it to the finish.
"I have never seen it go green that long," Fellows said. "But, we just didn't get a caution. It was a long time on that last set of tires."
The 15th-place finish marked Fellows fifth top-15 in 16 career Nextel Cup starts.
The No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet is now 23rd in Nextel Cup Series owner points with 1,442 points. Raines fell to 32nd in driver points with 1,319 points.
There were seven caution periods for 14 laps, with two drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the July 1 Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.