Over the Hill Gang Goes Over the Wall for Hmiel at Texas MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2004)-In an age where the so called "young guns" shoot most of the bullets in NASCAR competition, it was 5 men over 35 who went over the wall to help get the ...
Over the Hill Gang Goes Over the Wall for Hmiel at Texas
MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2004)-In an age where the so called "young guns" shoot most of the bullets in NASCAR competition, it was 5 men over 35 who went over the wall to help get the #15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck, driven by Shane Hmiel, to the front during the O'Reilly Auto Parts 400K at Texas Motor Speedway. Ritchie Wauters, Jerry Greathouse, Dennis Shoenfeld, Brian Doozer and Mike Brown, whose normal duties include fabricators, gear specialists, car chief and even crew chief, met the challenge of their younger counterparts on pit road and kept the Billy Ballew Motorsports truck up front.
The Mooresville based Billy Ballew Motorsports team typically hires one of the crews from the NASCAR Busch or NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series during companion races to keep expenses down. With all of the NASCAR Series being scattered across the country this weekend, Ballew had to count on his everyday shop personnel to double as the pit crew.
"We've been practicing at the shop every day," explained Ritchie Wauters, who is the crew chief for the #15 Chevy Silverado and doubled as rear tire changer. "These guys did a great job, just as good as a full time crew would have done."
Hmiel charged into the top-ten by lap 19 after qualifying in the 16th position. Hmiel informed his crew that his Chevrolet was loose in the middle of the corner and tight coming off. When caution came out on lap 20 as a result on an incident involving David Starr and Travis Kvapil, he elected to bring his truck down pit lane for some needed adjustments. His crew took off some tape on the front of the truck and raised the rear track bar during the stop. Hmiel was forced to return to the pits during the second caution after only 2 laps of competition. His rear tire was flattened after running over some debris on the track.
Hmiel restarted the race in 25th position and the # 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado once again steamed through the pack moving up to the 9th spot when the caution came out. The "Over 35 Crew," creaky bones and all, were ready for Hmiel when he came in for his stop. The team took 4 tires, fuel and made a minor air pressure adjustment. In doing so the team gained two hard earned spots on pit road despite their advanced years. When Hmiel returned to the track, he was the fastest truck on the track and was able to overtake Matt Crafton for second position. He then overpowered Ted Musgrave for the lead by lap 82. Musgrave however was able to retake the lead but Hmiel maintained the 2nd spot with Musgrave, Hmiel and Dennis Setzer pulling away from the pack.
Hmiel continued to have the fastest times in the field until lap 99 when mechanical misfortune befell the power plant on his Chevrolet Silverado and he retired to the garage on lap 102 posting a 26th place finish.
"We definitely had a truck capable of winning this race," Hmiel said after the event. "We were just so fast but something just gave way; it's just racing. It felt great to be in the lead again. This team has put forward so much effort and it showed when they got me out of the pits with a gain of two spots. We've got the right equipment, the right team and we've got a fast truck week in and week out. It is just tough running without a sponsor. We plan on being in victory lane soon but a sponsor would help make that happen a lot quicker. Ritchie and the guys from the shop did such an excellent job on the pit stops today and with the trucks they build. A little luck and a sponsor will keep this truck up front and in victory lane. We are all hungry for a win."
Shane Hmiel and the #15 Billy Ballew Motorsports team will be back in action with the rest of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Saturday, June 19th at Memphis Motorsports Park. The race will be broadcast live nationally on the Speed Channel, MRN Radio and XM Satellite radio at 3pm ET.