Victory escapes Hmiel's grasp once again Had it been one race later Hmiel would have been awarded the victor MOORESVILLE, NC (July 18, 2004) -- Shane Hmiel once again appeared to be the victor in the Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 at Gateway ...
Victory escapes Hmiel's grasp once again
Had it been one race later Hmiel would have been awarded the victor
MOORESVILLE, NC (July 18, 2004) -- Shane Hmiel once again appeared to be the victor in the Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway Saturday in the No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports NASCAR Craftsman Truck, but it was not to be. Ironically if it had been one race later Hmiel would have emerged the victor.
It looked as if it would be a One, Two Chevy finish with Hmiel holding the lead and Sprague in the second position. With four laps remaining in the race, Sprague blew a tire and clipped the wall resulting in a caution for debris on the race track. This would be the first of the four green/white/checkered finishes. On the restart, Hmiel lined up first and Bobby Hamilton was behind him to take the green flag. Hmiel pulled right away from Hamilton but was caught on the backstretch where Hamilton tried to pass Hmiel on the outside. Hmiel slid up still having some surface dirt on his tires from the caution, no radio communication with the team and had no power steering since early into the race, tangled with Hamilton sending them up into the wall.
"I really thought I had it locked up when Jack and I were on a run but when he lost a tire, I knew the green/white/checkered situation could go either way for Bobby and me - a first or a second place finish," Hmiel said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work that way for either of us. I would have never intentionally driven Bobby up on the wall. I would have rather finished second then take someone out. Bobby and Bobby Jr. and I are friends. I just want to apologize. Man, there was a lot of action in this race. Too bad it just wasn't the next race after the rule change."
NASCAR this past week adopted across the board a green/white/checkered flag policy to all of its divisions, due to an increased amount of races ending under caution. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has always had the policy in effect, the difference now is that there will be only one restart whereas before there was no limit to the number of restarts. Only four times in the last 10 years of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has there been a situation when there has been more than one green/white/checkered flags in a race; until last night.
"I agree with NASCAR's policy," Shane Hmiel said. "I think they are doing a great job giving the fans what they want - a race from start to finish. They just adopted the rule but it doesn't start until next weekend so everyone has a handle on how it works; but boy I sure wish they would have instated it tonight."
The next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race is July 31st for the LINE-X Spray on Truck Bedliners 200, at Michigan International Speedway.