Sadler, FanZCar Sing the Blues In Nashville Lebanon, Tennessee - - Hermie Sadler, and The FanZCar team headed into Nashville looking for their first top ten finish of the season, instead they walked away with a very disappointing 22nd place ...
Sadler, FanZCar Sing the Blues In Nashville
Lebanon, Tennessee - - Hermie Sadler, and The FanZCar team headed into Nashville looking for their first top ten finish of the season, instead they walked away with a very disappointing 22nd place finish.
55 Busch Series machines eyed for 43 starting positions Friday at the 1.333 mile Superspeedway. Sadler flying The FanZCar colors navigated his new Chevrolet Monte Carlo around the facility in 29.802 seconds equaling a speed of 161.023 MPH. The lap gained Sadler the 33rd starting position for the event.
The team headed into the last practice session on Friday night looking to find the right combination that would allow them to have a shot at victory on Saturday afternoon. Sadler bolted his new No. 02 Chevrolet around the track to score the 29th fastest lap.
Martin Truex, Jr who scored the Anheuser-Busch Pole on Friday had to give up his position to Bobby Hamilton, Jr after a wreck in happy hour. The start of the Pepsi 300 was moved up thanks to a good chance of rain during the afternoon.
Hamilton, Jr in his Marines Ford Taurus took the green flag shortly after 4:00 PM EST, with Sadler losing a couple positions on the start. By lap six, Sadler had fallen back to sixth, and was reporting to his crew that The FanZCar machine was tight throughout the racetrack.
After a few laps, Sadler found his groove and began dicing through the field. While continuing to still battle an ill-handling machine, he had worked up into 28th, by lap 20.
Hamilton, Jr who was setting a blistering pace at his home-track began lapping the field quickly, and by the 33rd marker, Sadler who moved up to 27th was one lap behind the pace. Despite falling off the lead lap, Hermie continued to dig and on lap 40 he overtook another racecar and moved up into the 26th place position.
The first caution flag waved on lap 62 for an accident involving Mike Wallace and Aaron Fike. The FanZCar was running in 23rd when they entered pit road and the crew led by crew chief Ernie Cope changed four tires, added Sunoco racing fuel and took two rounds down on the right rear with intentions of improving the handling on the car.
Thanks to a good pit stop by The FanZCar crew, Hermie restarted 22nd. Back under racing conditions, the adjustment didn't help his cause, as he fell to 24th by lap 74.
The caution came out on lap 82 as Sadler made slight contact with the No. 30 of David Stremme. Hermie suffered no damage in the accident, with Stremme, the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Rookie-of-the-Year not making any contact with the wall.
The Emporia, Virginia native brought his machine to the attention of his crew. They double-checked for any signs of damage, while also making another chassis adjustment to help the car turn better.
For the next 100 markers, Sadler continued to battle with a wicked tight FanZCar machine, while hovering in the top-25.
The team made another pit stop on lap 144 with tires, fuel, another wedge adjustment and repaired some damage to the right side of the car as another competitor made contact with car 02.
On the restart, Sadler controlled the 22nd position, with another yellow quickly waving for the accident involving Ron Hornaday, and Michael Waltrip.
The handling woes continued for the remainder of the event, while Michael Waltrip dodged a four car incident involving leaders Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Johnny Benson, and Robby Gordon to score his first victory of the season. The FanZCar machine took the checkered flag 22nd, scoring his fifth top-25 finish of the 2004 season.
"This was a respectable finish, but this is the worst car we had all year," said Sadler who completed 220 of 225 laps.
"I feel like after Texas we were starting to make some progress, but I feel that we took a giant step backwards, and I really don't want to say, except we hope to rebound in Talladega," added the 34-year old driver.
Crew Chief Ernie Cope was just as disappointed as the driver. "I agree with Hermie, this is the worst car that we've had all season. We just couldn't get The FanZCar machine to turn in the center of the corners and it really hurt us, I feel horrible, we should have done a lot better," he added.
"We're going to do some testing in the next couple of weeks, we have to improve our performance, it's not fair to the sponsors, the fans, and Hermie," commented Cope.
On a brighter note, the 1993 Raybestos NASCAR Busch Series Rookie-of-the-Year jumped one spot in the bid for the 2004 Busch championship. He is now 25th in the standings, 429 points out of first, and is less than 100 markers outside the top-twenty.
The NASCAR Busch Series will enjoy a weekend off before heading to their second restrictor plate track of the season at Talladega a week from Saturday.
However, the SCORE Motorsports team will head to Sadler's home track of Martinsville Speedway this upcoming weekend to participate in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event on Sunday. The team announced late last week, The FanZCar will hop from Busch and join the No. 02 Chevrolet Monte Carlo as the primary sponsor of the Cup machine in Hermie's second NEXTEL start of 2004.