(Las Vegas, September 25, 2004)-Shane Hmiel powered his Whitaker Farms Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado to the front of the field on the final lap of the Las Vegas 350, and claimed his first ever major NASCAR Touring Series victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Saturday night.
"This win is for everyone at Billy Ballew Motorsports, my Dad and Mom, my girlfriend and her family and everyone who has supported me through out my career," Hmiel said. "This is just awesome. It is all my guys, they do such a great job and work really hard to give me such great trucks.
"To come here on a big track when I have only been really good on short tracks just shows how good this team is."
Hmiel battled problems with the truck's carburetor throughout the night, but he was able to race through the difficulties, and his pit crew helped to keep him in the thick of the battle with solid performances on pit road. As the laps wound down, Hmiel posted the fastest times on the track, and moved through the top five.
In the end, Hmiel used the famous bump-and-run move to power his Silverado past race leader Todd Bodine as the white flag waved.
"I didn't know if I could catch him (Todd Bodine, leader) but I knew I could get second," Hmiel said. "Once I got into second I said to myself I wasn't leaving here not winning this race. We had come close too many times so I just kept digging and once I got up to him, there wasn't many laps left so I gave him just a little bump and took the lead and held on to get the win.
"I am with a good team and we are certainly capable on winning some more races."
Hmiel was quick to credit truck owner Billy Ballew for his first win. Ballew took a chance on the 24-year-old by putting him behind the wheel of the No. 15 truck at the start of this season although Hmiel had struggled with issues off the track. Hmiel was suspended by NASCAR last season for illegal substances.
"I like talking about how I have overcome the problem I had with drugs because I think it makes it better and easier for others to know they can do it too," Hmiel said. "Billy gave me the chance to drive this No. 15 Silverado when no one else would even talk to me so I am just proud to give him his first win."
"I promised myself I would buy myself a diamond Rolex when I won my first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and I am going to do that tomorrow. This is the most awesome night of my life right now."