HMIEL BATTLES BACK FROM TIRE PROBLEMS TO FINISH STRONG AT BRISTOL BRISTOL, TN (April 4, 2005) -- Shane Hmiel was hoping to carry over momentum from last weeks 3rd place Busch series finish at Nashville, to this weekend's events at Bristol...
HMIEL BATTLES BACK FROM TIRE PROBLEMS TO FINISH STRONG AT BRISTOL
BRISTOL, TN (April 4, 2005) -- Shane Hmiel was hoping to carry over momentum from last weeks 3rd place Busch series finish at Nashville, to this weekend's events at Bristol Motor Speedway and he definitely accomplished his goal.
During Friday's practice session, Hmiel's #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet laid down the fastest lap ever run by a Busch car at Bristol when he blistered the track in 15.055 seconds. Later that same day, Hmiel qualified the #08 WINFUEL Chevrolet in the 33rd position for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not shining on Saturday's Busch series event as rainy conditions force the cancellation of qualifying and the Sharpie 250. The #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet never got the chance to break the track qualifying record and instead was forced to start from the 13th position, according to the owner point standings.
Sunday's Food City 500 started out good for Shane Hmiel and the #08 WINFUEL team as Hmiel was able to work his way through traffic up into the top-20. On lap 258, his luck changed when Hmiel lost 3 laps due to an unscheduled green flag pit stop forced by a hole in the blistered right front tire. Hmiel again brought the #08 WINFUEL Chevrolet to the attention of his crew on lap 299 for work on the front grill and radiator. On lap 305, the WINFUEL team made the decision that nothing more could be gained by staying out on the track and parked the car for the day.
"When you're racing at Bristol everyone is bumpin' and bangin' all day, and I finally pushed the radiator back," Hmiel explained. "I think it pinched off a hose and was starting to cause it to overheat. It's unfortunate, I thought we were going to finish about 15th or 20th in the WINFUEL Chevrolet because having a good day and making up some positions."
"Today's race was a lot of fun and I thought we were going to make it the whole 500 laps, but at least the car is in one piece and we can come back tomorrow to race the #32 WINFUEL Chevy in the Busch race. I learned a lot of things about the track today that I can use to help put the WINFUEL Chevrolet in victory lane tomorrow."
Monday morning found clear skies and sun shining on the postponed Sharpie 250. In the early laps of the race, Shane Hmiel strategically drove the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet into the top-10, but on lap 33 bad luck struck the team again as Hmiel had to come down pit road with a punctured right front tire, losing 2 laps to the leaders under green.
On the next caution, Shane was able to pass the leaders and regain one of the laps. By lap 98, Hmiel was able to race his way into the lucky dog position putting him back on the lead lap. Unfortunately, the #32 Chevrolet spun on lap 106 to avoid a wreck and Hmiel again found himself one lap down to the leaders. Hmiel again raced hard and put himself in 26th position making him the recipient of the lucky dog rule again on lap 120.
"We got two laps down when the right front went down, and we worked hard to get it back," Shane said. "Then lap cars caused a wreck, we got another lap down from that and got back on the lead lap again and finished 12th. I hate it for the WINFUEL Chevrolet because we were the fastest car here and we got stuck back in traffic when our right front went down. Lap cars caused most of the wrecks today. "
Back on the lead lap, Hmiel strategically cut his way through traffic and past the slower cars that were in front of him on the track. By around lap 240, Hmiel had made his way up to the 13th position and was pressuring #90 Dale Jarrett for the 12th position. Jarrett and Hmiel raced each other hard in the final laps of the race, when on lap 247, with only 3 laps to go, Hmiel got to the inside of Jarrett going into turn 1 and Jarrett spun making contact with the outside wall.
"I'm sorry that Dale Jarrett's car got torn up, but when they're wrecking in front of you you're trying to move and then you end up into somebody," Hmiel said. "Then Jarrett came over to my car threatening me and promising that I would get mine. I hate that I got into him, but it's unfortunately racing at Bristol with three to go."
NASCAR threw the third red flag of the race in order to clean up the track and allow for a green-white-checkered finish. When it was all said and done, Shane Hmiel managed to bring the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet back from three laps down to finish in 12th place, moving him up one position the 10th in the driver point standings.
The NASCAR Busch Series has certainly worked hard to earn its first off-weekend of the season, but Shane Hmiel will continue his drive to win as he pilots the #15 Billy Ballew Motorsports truck this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet will be back in action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. LIVE coverage of the O'Reilly's 300 begins Saturday, April 16 on FOX at 2:00 p.m. EST.