Stremme Scores Strong Sixth-Place Finish in First Plate Race MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 17, 2004) -- TRIMSPA driver David Stremme defied odds and expectations at Daytona International Speedway on Monday by posting a sixth-place finish in his first...
Stremme Scores Strong Sixth-Place Finish in First Plate Race
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 17, 2004) -- TRIMSPA driver David Stremme defied odds and expectations at Daytona International Speedway on Monday by posting a sixth-place finish in his first restrictor plate start. Stremme's X32 TRIMSPA Dodge was a contender from the moment it was rolled off the truck on Friday. Despite never having competed in a restrictor plate race, Stremme qualified in the fourth position with a lap around the 2.5-mile tri oval at 180.563 miles per hour.
"We were going for the pole so we were a little bummed when we didn't get it," admitted Stremme, the 2003 Busch Rookie of the Year. "We had to remind ourselves that we came here to avoid the big wrecks and finish in the top 15, a good qualifying run was a bonus."
From the drop of the green flag Stremme was an obvious front-runner in his first competitive laps at the historic superspeedway. On lap 13, Stremme narrowly avoided a seven-car wreck on the backstretch, sustaining slight right side damage on X32 TRIMSPA Dodge but keeping it under control while continuing on at top speed. After a pit stop under the resulting caution, rain showers forced the race to be halted and restarted the following Monday.
Stremme was slated to restart ninth when the race resumed Monday, but a slight miscue during a fuel stop under caution just before the race was restarted relegated the TRIMSPA driver to the 29th position. After the restart Stremme made quick work of the field, as he learned the draft and moved up to 14th position by lap 40. When a ten-car pileup erupted on lap 41, Stremme was pushed into the wall. However, the young driver again managed to squeeze by and minimize any damage.
"I know my dad went through a whole bottle of Rolaids watching me on TV," said Stremme. "But I was having fun out there just sawing on the wheel and mixing it up with those guys. Heck my adrenaline was pumping so hard I couldn't calm down until I was on the plane home."
By lap 74 Stremme had worked his way up to the 7th position when a caution came out for oil. The TRIMSPA team went to work for the final pit stop of the race, servicing the X32 Dodge with four tires, fuel, and a right side air pressure adjustment. A little extra time was spent to repair sheetmetal damage from the earlier incident with the wall. Stremme restarted 17th and again went to work on the drivers in front of him, many of them NEXTEL Cup regulars.
"I have learned a lot about the draft from guys like Jamie (McMurray) and Sterling (Marlin)," said Stremme. "But when you are out there racing, those Cup guys will wear you out. I think every one got hung out of the draft at one point or another. Kenseth put a heck of a move on me. Harvick jacked me up pretty good. I accidentally hit Robbie (Gordon) pretty hard on the straightaway. It was wild, but fun."
By lap 108 Stremme had used the draft to work a battered but fast X32 Dodge into the third position with only 12 laps to go. But staying up front took help and the 26-year old driver had to manage on his own in the final laps, coming home with an impressive sixth-place finish. Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed the win. Stremme was the top finishing driver not competing fulltime in NEXTEL Cup.
"What a great weekend for the TRIMSPA X32 Dodge," said Stremme. "We did exactly what we had to do and more. I can't say enough about this team."
Stremme and the TRIMSPA X32 Dodge team will hit the track Saturday, February 21, at 12:30 p.m. at the North Carolina Speedway for the second race of the 34-race Busch Series schedule. The 200-mile event will be telecast live on FX and broadcast worldwide on MRN radio.