ANDRETTI AND BAM RACING HAVE STRONG RACE IN MARTINSVILLE DESPITE FINISH Andretti and No. 49 team poised for top-20 finish before transmission woes with just laps to go MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 21, 2007) -- John Andretti...
ANDRETTI AND BAM RACING HAVE STRONG RACE IN MARTINSVILLE DESPITE FINISH
Andretti and No. 49 team poised for top-20 finish before transmission woes with just laps to go
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 21, 2007) -- John Andretti considers Martinsville Speedway one of his favorite tracks. The site of his last win in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition, the entire BAM Racing organization was optimistic headed to famed short track. Despite rain on Friday, qualifying was held with Andretti capturing the 15th place starting position as the fastest of all "go-or-go-home" cars. He drove a smart race on Sunday and was in position for a solid top-20 finish when the rear gear on the No. 49 Dodge broke within laps of the checkered flag. The team fell out of the race and finished the Subway 500 in the 33rd position.
Before an estimated crowd of 66,500 fans, teams were set for an afternoon of action-packed racing at the paperclip-shaped track located in the hills of Virginia. Andretti and team were set to make up ground in the owner points standings with a solid starting position.
"Good luck today, John," radioed team owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. "Thanks to everyone on the team for all of your hard work this weekend. Let's have a good day on pit road and give him all the help we can."
The first of a record 21 cautions came out on lap 45 for an accident in turn three. Andretti reported that the track was slick and the car did not seem to have any rear grip. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted the race in 24th place.
At a track where pit strategy is essential to a good finish, the BAM Racing team opted not to make a pit stop on lap 82 when the caution flag flew for an accident in turn two. Andretti was running in 30th place at the time of the caution and restarted the race on lap 88 in the 8th position. The move picked up 22 positions for the No. 49 team.
As the race went on, Andretti was able to run strong remaining on the lead lap. He was also able to avoid involvement in the on track melees in the first half of the race.
The caution came out once again on lap 114 when the No. 01 machine caught fire on the backstretch. Andretti reported that the Paralyzed Veterans Dodge was tight in the center of the turns and loose on exit. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
At the mid-point of the race, Andretti was running in the 29th position on the lead lap. The first half of the race saw nine caution periods totaling 48 laps. As crew chief Dean Johnson noted, "If they keep this up it will be dark before we're done."
Andretti was running in the 26th position on the lead lap when yet another caution came out on lap 296. Once again the BAM team decided not to pit in order to gain track position. It was a smart move as Andretti restarted the race on lap on lap 300 in the 10th position.
More cautions ensued with Andretti steering clear of the on-track carnage. When a caution came out on lap 343, he gave the team an update on the Paralyzed Veterans Dodge.
"I'm driving as hard as I can," radioed Andretti. "This is as good as I've been all day coming off the turns."
Andretti came to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted the race on lap 348 in the 25th position on the lead lap.
Andretti was on the verge of going a lap down for the first time in the race when a fortunate caution came out on lap 396. With the leader on his rear bumper, Andretti was scored on the lead lap at the time of the caution.
With 50 laps to go, Andretti was running in 18th place and was positioned to capture a solid finish and possibly gain valuable ground in the owner points standings. Although he was involved in an accident on lap 478, the racecar did not sustain major damage and he remained on track.
With 10 laps to go, the field approached a restart following a caution for oil on the track. Andretti was lined up in the 18th position when the pinion in the rear gear broke on the racecar forcing Andretti to the garage and out of the race. He finished the Subway 500 in the 33rd position.
"I am so proud of the hard work and effort of our entire team this weekend," commented team owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. "We were so close to a solid finish and possibly gaining ground in the owner points standings when the gear broke on the car. It's disappointing not to get the finish we deserved but we will move forward to Atlanta with determination."