MADISON, IL (May 6, 2001) Ricky Hendrick posted another Top-10 performance steering his No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish in the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway Sunday. The solid effort marked the...
MADISON, IL (May 6, 2001) Ricky Hendrick posted another Top-10 performance steering his No. 17 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish in the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway Sunday. The solid effort marked the fifth time in as many events this season that Hendrick, the top rookie in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, finished in the Top-10. To do it, the 21-year-old driver had to survive a wild skirmish over the final laps.
"The last 10 laps were awesome," said Hendrick. "We battled a tight handling truck all night. We didn't have a great truck at the beginning of the race, but the Team GMAC guys worked really hard to turn it around and I worked really hard trying to find the right line. We were really consistent all night long. The team made the right changes on the last stop and I just concentrated on my marks. It was a strong team effort tonight. "
The event got underway nearly three hours late after rain showers hit the St. Louis, MO area racetrack. The cold, damp conditions at racetime affected the handling of the GMAC Chevy throughout the early going, but solid communication between Hendrick and crew chief Lance McGrew led to changes during the pit stops that gave Hendrick the much-needed edge to move up in the running order at the finish.
"The guys did a great job," Hendrick stated. " We had really good pit stops and the GMAC Chevy really kicked in at the end thanks to the adjustments the guys made in the last pit stop. It took me a while to get the tires up and we kept climbing." Despite the solid finish, Hendrick fell one position in the championship chase. The Charlotte, NC now sits fourth in the standings, 90 markers out of the top spot and just four points out of third. Hendrick still holds fast to the lead for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award by a 76-71 margin over Travis Kvapil.
"It's a good finish and we will take it." Hendrick added, " It's our fifth Top-10 out of five races. We dropped a spot in the points, but we are only 15 points out of second and we are still the Top Rookie. We are ready to head to Darlington and see what we've got there. The GMAC Chevy gave us a really good finish, so it was a good night."
Next up for Hendricks and his Team GMAC mates will be the inaugural Darlington 200 at Darlington (SC) Raceway. The event on the historic 1.366-mile Darlington oval will take the green flag Saturday, May 12, at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and will be televised by ESPN and broadcast by MRN radio.