ANDRETTI AND BAM RACING PERSEVERE IN CALIFORNIA DESPITE TIRE INCIDENTS Andretti leads race, collects valuable bonus points; finishes 37th after tire incidents hamper efforts FONTANA, Cal. (September 2, 2007) -- Since the 2007 NASCAR ...
ANDRETTI AND BAM RACING PERSEVERE IN CALIFORNIA DESPITE TIRE INCIDENTS
Andretti leads race, collects valuable bonus points; finishes 37th after tire incidents hamper efforts
FONTANA, Cal. (September 2, 2007) -- Since the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series began, qualifying for competitors outside of the top-35 in owner points has been cutthroat. The entry list for the Sharp AQUOS 500 at California Speedway set a season low record with only 46 entrants. Reflective of the increasingly competitive level of the sport, the number has dropped dramatically from the season-opening Daytona 500 which had 61 entries. This weekend, the BAM Racing team qualified for its third event in a row with driver John Andretti behind the wheel. The team employed pit strategy to gain bonus points and position on track before two separate tire incidents relegated the Paralyzed Veterans Dodge to a disappointing 37th place finish.
Scorching heat plagued teams and fans alike during the weekend's events and many welcomed the start of the evening race. Before an estimated crowd of 85,000 fans, the field took the green flag in what would become an unpredictable, caution-filled race.
The first caution came out lap 11 when the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet blew an engine dropping oil on the track. Crew chief Dean Johnson made the call for Andretti to stay out on track and lead a lap in order to collect five valuable bonus points. Andretti lead the field to the green flag when the race restarted on lap 13. He was running in the 21st position when a caution came out on lap 15. After coming to pit road and lining up for the restart in 33rd place, the strategic move gained nine spots for the team overall.
Once he was able to get a feel for the car, Andretti reported that the Paralyzed Veterans Dodge was tight in the center of the corners and loose on exit. On lap 41, Michael Waltrip was involved in a fiery single-car accident in turn 3 bringing out the yellow flag. Johnson immediately relayed the significance of the event to his driver.
"The 78 car and the 55 car are out of the race," radioed Johnson. "We're racing both of them for position in owner points so let's see if we can make up some ground tonight."
Andretti came to pit road four tires and fuel. He restarted the race in the 34th position.
Prepared to work his way up through the field and gain as many points as possible, Andretti unexpectedly blew a left front tire on lap 71 and was forced to bring the Paralyzed Veterans Dodge to the garage area for repairs to the fender. He restarted the race some 23 laps later in the 41st position.
Andretti began posting competitive lap times even though he was running laps down. Then, on lap 108, he cut down the left rear tire and was forced to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. As the race approached the halfway mark, Andretti was running in the 40th position.
The team continued the race using remaining pit stop to make adjustments to the racecar. Several more caution periods came out as a result of accidents that Andretti was able to avoid. He finished the race in the 37th position gaining 20 points in the owner points standings.
"We are certainly disappointed that we had two separate tire incidents that cost us position on track and points," commented team owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. "We made up some ground in the owner points and feel we have the right combination in Dean Johnson and John Andretti to continue this forward momentum."
Next week, Andretti and the BAM Racing team will travel to Richmond International Raceway for the excitement of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. The race will broadcast live on ABC at 7:00 p.m. EDT and air live on MRN.
-credit: bam racing