Up-and-Down Outing at Martinsville Ends in 28th Place for Schrader Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing, had the kind of up-and-down outing so typical of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during Sunday's...
Up-and-Down Outing at Martinsville Ends in 28th Place for Schrader
Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing, had the kind of up-and-down outing so typical of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during Sunday's TUMS QuikPak 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, ultimately soldiering home for a 28th-place finish after starting 40th.
After Friday's qualifying session was rained out, Schrader was relegated to the 40th starting position on a grid set according to owner points per the NASCAR rulebook. He and the team felt that, given the chance to qualify, Schrader may well have lined up much closer to the front for today's scheduled 500-lap run around NASCAR's shortest track at 0.526 of a mile.
Despite subtle but significant handling issues in the early part of his fuel-and-tire runs throughout the day, Schrader was able to improve his track position in the early going. He was up to 36th before pitting under the first caution of the race on lap 30. He and the team opted to stay on track when the caution flag flew for the second time on lap 60, going off-sequence and restarting in 12th place on lap 67. He lost ground during that run to the leaders who pitted for fresh tires, but fell back only to 25th when the day's third caution flag flew on lap 81.
Less than 40 laps later, Schrader and the DLP HDTV Toyota team opted to stay on track once again and restarted in sixth on lap 121. From there, Schrader was able to maintain his position near the top-25 before a fateful pit stop under green for tires and fuel on lap 371. That stop left Schrader in 32nd place, four laps off the pace, and a caution period on lap 380 allowed the rest of the field to make its round of stops under yellow.
"That pretty much sealed our fate, unfortunately," said Schrader, who picked up four positions by race's end on his way to his 28th-place finish. "I think when qualifying was rained out on Friday, that really changed the whole complexion of the weekend for us. We're pretty confident we could have qualified much better than 40th, and that would have meant a world of difference on this track. As it turns out, though, we just never could get the car to turn just right. All the changes we made affected the rear end of the car but really didn't improve our ability to turn, especially at the beginning of a run. On the longer runs, the car did seem to improve, but it didn't exactly get good. Compared to last week (at Charlotte), though, I'd have to say I'm feeling a better about things considering our race car came home in one piece, relatively unscathed."
"Unfortunately, I think the changes we made to the car made it worse than it was yesterday," added crew chief Steve Boyer. "Kenny did everything he could with what he had to work with. Once again, I think we learned some more, valuable lessons that will help us down the road."
With the 28th-place finish, the No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing entry remained 39th in the series' owner standings with 2,124 points, 321 markers behind the 35th-place No. 7 entry of Robby Gordon Motorsports.