BUSCH: Atlanta: Shane Hmiel race notes

PROMISING WEEKEND ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT FOR SHANE HMIEL ATLANTA, GA (March 20, 2005) --The NASCAR triple-header weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway started out full of promise for Shane Hmiel. Shane spent most of Friday practicing in...


ATLANTA, GA (March 20, 2005) --The NASCAR triple-header weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway started out full of promise for Shane Hmiel. Shane spent most of Friday practicing in all three of NASCAR's major series, then qualifying the #15 Billy Ballew Motorsports truck on the outside of the front row, followed by qualifying the #08 WINFUEL Chevrolet in the 21st position for the Nextel Cup race. The night cap to Hmiel's hectic day, the Craftsman Truck series race, ended in the first disappointment of the weekend as Shane's fast truck was plagued by tire problems, resulting in a 32nd place finish.

After an up and down Friday, Hmiel returned to the track on Saturday to qualify and race the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet in the Busch series event. The day started off with promise as Shane laid down a fast lap in the heat of qualifying to place the WINFUEL Chevy in 7th place on the starting grid.

The #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet was fast from the beginning of the race and Shane quickly fought his way up to 4th position. During the second caution of the race, on lap 18, the WINFUEL team opted to hit pit road for adjustments, even though the leaders stayed out. The third caution came on lap 28, and Shane stayed out to take over the lead as the leaders came to pit road for service. Hmiel led the event for 10 laps before being taken over by #48 Jimmie Johnson who had fresh tires.

Lap 66 was the turning point for the WINFUEL team, when coming off Turn 4 Hmiel got loose on old tires and spun into the outside wall. "We stayed out during the last caution and I was just riding around in 4th trying to baby it because I knew that the right rear was going away," Hmiel explained. "I wore the right rear tire out and we were just too loose.

I finally lost it coming off of turn 4."

"The WINFUEL Chevrolet was good and we were up there racing with the cup drivers for the lead. I really felt like we were good enough to run in the top-three, and maybe even win the race with just one more adjustment. It's just devastating, two days in a row, to have the right rear tire wear out in both the truck race and Busch race."

Shane Hmiel was hoping to turn his luck around in Sunday's Nextel Cup race, but getting caught up in an unfortunate wreck on lap 1 would end the day for the #08 WINFUEL Chevrolet.

"I saw the #41 (Casey Mears) spinning in front of me, so I started checking up, but someone ran into me from behind and spun me into the wall," a disappointed Hmiel explained. "It's so unfortunate because the WINFUEL Chevrolet was really good in practice on Friday, and I thought we could run in the top-15. My guys worked so hard the last few weeks to get these cars ready, and it's just terrible that we didn't even get to show how good that car really was. This race is 500 miles and to get run over like that on the first lap is pretty devastating. Everyone in the series has been racing for so long, and I don't know how a wreck like that happens on lap 1."

The triple-header weekend was especially big for the Braun Racing team because its primary sponsor, WINFUEL, Inc., officially launched its new product. "It's unfortunate, especially since we launched WINFUEL yesterday," Hmiel said. "WINFUEL is a new multi-vitamin from Goen Technologies. They have been a wonderful sponsor for me and the whole Braun Racing team and I really wish that we could have performed better this weekend for them. It's disappointing to get our Nextel Cup season started off like this, but I have a great crew and they'll get everything ready to take the #08 WINFUEL Chevy to Bristol in two weeks."

Although Shane was disappointed about the results in Atlanta, he is always looking forward to his next opportunity to put the WINFUEL Chevrolet in victory lane. "I haven't had the best of luck in any of the races this weekend, but the good thing about race is there's always next weekend," an optimistic Hmiel said. "We're going to take the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet to Nashville and do our best of make up some of the ground that we've lost in the championship standings. We've had some luck at Nashville in the past and I'm really looking forward to Bristol in two weeks."

The WINFUEL/Braun Racing team will be in the "Music City" this weekend to compete in the only NASCAR event of the holiday weekend. Live coverage of the Busch series Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway starts this Saturday on FX at 3:30 p.m. EST.


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Drivers Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Shane Hmiel