Stremme Finishes 13th at the Auto Club 500 Driver David Stremme and the No.12 Penske Dodge Charger team battled some of the top talent in the NASCAR Cup Series, as well as mother nature, to bring home a solid 13th-place finish at Auto Club 500...
Stremme Finishes 13th at the Auto Club 500
Driver David Stremme and the No.12 Penske Dodge Charger team battled some of the top talent in the NASCAR Cup Series, as well as mother nature, to bring home a solid 13th-place finish at Auto Club 500 Sunday evening.
Stremme started the 500-mile event in the 38th spot, but he focused on patiently guiding his Penske Racing machine into the top-20. The second event on the 2009 Cup Series schedule is one of the longest races of the year, and the team knew it had 250 laps to get its Dodge Charger dialed in and to the front.
On lap five, Stremme called his crew to report the car was tight in the middle of the corners, costing him valuable speed coming out of the turns. Crew chief Roy McCauley started to scheme on what changes to make to the Penske Dodge during the first round of pit stops.
As the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 41, the team prepared to see its car on pit lane. Stremme rolled the No. 12 into the pits two laps later for service. The crew changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. They also made an air pressure adjustment hoping to get the car to roll cleanly through the center of the corners. The team had a lightning-quick stop, picking up three positions on pit road.
After delays for rain on the race track, the event returned to green flag conditions on lap 46 and Stremme found himself in the 23rd spot. The 31-year old Indiana native was again on a mission towards the front of the field. He called into his team explaining the adjustments helped the car's handling, but he needed a bit more to be really strong coming off the corners.
By the halfway point of the race, Stremme had the No.12 Dodge Charger in the 13th position. He radioed to McCauley that the track conditions were changing as the sun was setting. Stremme explained that his car was starting to get loose on both the entry and exit of the turns, and it was causing him to have to really chase the car up the track. Though Stremme was chasing the car, it was not hurting his lap times. The Penske Dodge Charger was keeping pace with the race leaders.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 207 because of an incident going into the first turn, the team started to set up for its final stop of the night. The No. 12 crew knew they had to hit their marks to keep Stremme in the top-15. Stremme headed down pit lane on lap 112 to take on four fresh Goodyear tires and fill his car with enough fuel to get to the end of the 250-lap event.
Following a strong stop, Stremme held off the competition for the final 30 laps to bring home his career-best result at Auto Club Speedway. The finish enabled Stremme to gain nine positions to 24th-place in the Cup Series standings.
"It was a good day for the No.12 Penske Dodge Charger," commented Stremme. "We struggled a little bit during qualifying, but did not give up on it. Roy (McCauley) made some great changes yesterday during practice that really brought the car to life. This was a good test for this team. We are all still learning about each other and what we need to make our car fast. We knew we needed to have a solid finish in order to keep ourselves up in the points. We had great pit stops and Roy really helped the car during the race. I am excited about going to Las Vegas and seeing if we can build on this finish. It is so important to have solid finishes in the first five or six races to gain momentum for the rest of the season."
Stremme and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team return to racing action next Sunday at the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.