David Stremme Finishes 32nd at Pocono Raceway LONG POND, PA. (August 3, 2009) -- Penske Racing driver David Stremme had a top-15 run going in the No.12 Penske Dodge Monday at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway before an incident in turn 2 took him out...
David Stremme Finishes 32nd at Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, PA. (August 3, 2009) -- Penske Racing driver David Stremme had a top-15 run going in the No.12 Penske Dodge Monday at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway before an incident in turn 2 took him out of contention for a solid finish.
Stremme started 32nd in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 after rain washed out qualifying on Friday. The Penske Dodge team waited all day Sunday for the rains to dissipate so the race could get underway, but the track surface was too damp and NASCAR postponed the start the 500-mile event until Monday afternoon.
Stremme felt he had a car capable of running in the top-15 but he had to navigate traffic early in the event. He called into crew chief Roy McCauley on lap 18, to explain that the car was handling extremely tight in the "tunnel" turn and was sapping the No. 12's speed heading into the short chute at Pocono Raceway. McCauley told his driver the team would work on the car during the first round of pit stops.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 20, the Penske Dodge crew prepared to see its machine on pit lane. The 32-year-old driver brought the No. 12 into the pit box on lap 22 for service. The team changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The crew also made a trackbar adjustment, hoping to free the car's handling through the corners.
The race restarted under the green flag on lap 25 and Stremme found himself in the 25th position. He called into the team five laps later to report that the changes made to the car were really making the Penske Dodge come to life. Stremme said his machine was still a bit loose entering to turn 1, but the adjustments made a big difference. Stremme started to navigate his way through the 43-car field. By lap 50, he had made it into the 22nd spot.
The team made its second pit stop of the day on lap 54. The No. 12 crew again bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the car with racing fuel. They also made a small air pressure adjustment to the Penske Dodge, trying to find a bit more speed.
By the halfway point of the race, Stremme had maneuvered his way into the top-20 and was tracking down the leaders. He radioed to McCauley to say the car was really strong and he was just trying to be patient while making his way to the front.
By lap 130, Stremme had the Penske Dodge running in the 15th spot and was posting top-10 lap times. He relayed to the team that the car was running well off the corners, which was helping him pass the competition. Stremme went on to describe the car as handling a bit free overall. McCauley and Stremme discussed the changes the team would make to the car under the next round of pit stops.
The No.7 car driven by Robby Gordon spun right in front of Stremme on lap 149, to bring out caution flag for the sixth time during the event. Stremme did a good job preventing his machine from sustaining heavy damage, but the contact did manage to wound the right front of the Penske Dodge. The damage was mainly cosmetic and the No.12 pit crew did an outstanding job making repairs to their machine without losing a lap to the leaders.
Stremme restarted the race in the 32nd position, but felt like he still had a machine capable of running inside the top-20. Five laps later, Stremme was protecting his position when the No. 12 and the No.7 machines came together again. The contact sent Gordon spinning into the grass to bring out the yellow flag. NASCAR then penalized both Stremme and Gordon for rough driving as a result of the incident, holding each car for five laps on pit lane.
Stremme raced hard for the remaining 47 laps, but he wasn't able to make up enough ground and took the checkered flag in 32nd place.
"I just hate it for our Penske Dodge team," commented Stremme after the race. "We had a great car. [Crew chief] Roy [McCauley] and all the guys on this team did a tremendous job preparing this car. We were fast all day. I could pass people and our car would really motor down the straightaways. We were caught up in someone else's mess. I am looking forward to next weekend's race in Watkins Glen. We have tested a number of times to prepare for the final road course of the year and I think we will have a solid run."
Stremme remains 31st in the Cup Series driver point standings after 21 of 36 races. The No.12 Penske Dodge team will head to upstate New York for next Sunday's 90-lap event at Watkins Glen International.