STREMME STORMS TO THIRD CONSECUTIVE TOP-TEN FINISH IN RICHMOND --Teammate Wallace Strong throughout Entire Race, Sees Likely Top-Ten Stolen-- RICHMOND, VA (September 7, 2008)--Building on momentum gained over the past two races at Bristol...
STREMME STORMS TO THIRD CONSECUTIVE TOP-TEN FINISH IN RICHMOND
--Teammate Wallace Strong throughout Entire Race, Sees Likely Top-Ten Stolen--
RICHMOND, VA (September 7, 2008)--Building on momentum gained over the past two races at Bristol and California, No. 64 Rusty Wallace Racing Chevrolet driver, David Stremme, scored his third straight Nationwide Series top-ten finish tonight in the Emerson Radio 250 at Richmond International Raceway. A potential contender for victory for much of the race, Stremme was forced to overcome an early race spin and subsequent tire issues en route to his finish.
Meanwhile, Stremme's teammate, No. 66 Team 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace Racing Chevrolet driver, Steve Wallace, was a top-ten contender all night long in Richmond as well, climbing as high as sixth place during the night and spending 88% of the race's laps among the top-15. The young wheelman seemed poised to score his seventh top-ten of the year and third consecutive top-ten for sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, before being spun by a lapped car with just 16 of the 250 laps remaining.
Stremme and his No. 64 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet team started tonight's event from the inside of row five, after rain from Tropical Storm Hanna cancelled the weekend's qualifying session. Upon the start of the race, the Hoosier steadily worked his way forward, breaking the top-five for the first time by lap 15. Stremme would run amongst the top-five until lap 55, when contact from a lapped car sent his No. 64 spinning down the front straightaway. He would save the car from damage and bring it to pit road for four fresh tires, before restarting the race from the 32nd position.
As the race progressed, Stremme would charge through the field, again moving into the top-20 around lap 75 and cracking the top-15 around lap 90. By lap 109, Stremme had worked his way back into the top-ten, but his charge forward did not end there. He would once again crack the top-five around lap 200 and just prior to the lap 205 caution, he was putting down the fastest laps of the field.
When the race's sixth caution flew on lap 205, the majority of the field came to pit road for their final stops of the day. After the No. 64 team pitted earlier to replace the tires flat-spotted in their spin, NASCAR's tire regulations left the No. 64 squad with only 30-lap scuffed tires in their pit stall. Thus, the team was forced to leave Stremme on the racetrack, rather than follow the other leaders to pit road.
Stremme assumed the lead during this caution period, which he held for twelve laps. Despite having tires over 40 laps older than those of the majority of the field, he would hold on over the race's final circuits to score a ninth-place result, his 14th top-ten finish of 2008. For his performance in the race, Stremme earned the Mobil 1 Command Performance Award and the Wix Filters Lap Leader Award.
With their effort, the No. 64 team maintained their ninth-place ranking in the 2008 owners' standings, but closed within 90 points of the No. 99 team for eighth-place and within 100 points of the No. 6 team for the seventh position. Meanwhile, despite attempting only 25 of the 28 events thus far in 2008, David Stremme kept his foothold on the 12th position in the drivers' standings and has now closed within 68 points of tenth-place and within 120 points of the eighth position.
Said Stremme, "Man, we had a great car tonight. We had to tune on it a little bit in the beginning, but by the time we got back through the field, we really had something to work with. With 50 or so laps to go, our Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet was the fastest car on the racetrack.
"The situation with the tires just killed us, or we might have had a shot at winning tonight. We got spun out by a lapped car and had to replace those tires, so it got us a set behind. Then, NASCAR came to us during the caution we had to stay out and said they were going to allow another set. By then, it was too late and we had to stay out on old tires. I hate it, because I really think we could have challenged Carl and those guys for the win, but we'll take another top-ten and move on to Dover."
Meanwhile, Stremme's teammate, Steve Wallace and his No. 66 Team 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace Racing Chevrolet team entered the Richmond event with much anticipation, following their top-five performance in Richmond's spring event. After the rainout on Friday forced the team to start from the 20th position, Wallace and company did not disappoint. By lap nine, Wallace had already cracked the top-15 and by the time the race's second caution flew on lap 30, he had marched all the way to the 12th position. Wallace and his 5-Hour Energy machine went on to crack the top-ten by lap 75.
Despite fighting a "tight" condition for much of the race, Wallace and his No. 66 team would go on to spend over 88% of the race's laps in the top-15. Following a round of pit stops under the lap 205 caution, the No. 66 squad seemed poised for their second Richmond top-ten of the year. With new tires and an adjustment to his car, Wallace restarted the race and moved into the top-ten by lap 225.
The No. 66 was closing fast on the 8th-place car when, with just 16 laps remaining in the event, he was struck in the left rear and spun by the No. 21 of Austin Dillon while in turn three. Dillon and his No. 21 Chevrolet were running two laps down to Wallace and the other leaders at the time of the incident. Wallace's Chevrolet suffered minor damage and was forced to pit road for repairs and tires. After restarting from the rear of the field, Wallace was able to bring home the No. 66 to another lead-lap finish, in 17th position--the team's 18th top-20 finish of the year.
Stated Wallace, "This is definitely a tough one to swallow. We worked on our 5-Hour Energy Chevrolet all night long and by the end of the race, got it handling really well. We had just gotten back into the top-ten with like 25 or so to go and the way we were closing on those guys, I really thought that we might have been able to get another top-five out of tonight's race. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess.
"I don't know, it's a hard situation, because I really respect Richard Childress; he's always been good to me and I appreciate everything he does for us with the engines. To put it plain and simple though, the 21 car just wrecked us; that's all there was to it. He was two laps down, so I don't know why he thought he had to race the leaders so hard all night, especially with less than 20 to go. Down the road, he might be in the same position I was tonight and like they say, what goes around comes around.
"I really hate it for 5-Hour Energy, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches and the rest of our sponsors, because tonight was really close to being a good finish for our team. We're tough though; we'll get back up, head to Dover and go get them there."