St. Louis: Scott Wimmer race report

Scott Wimmer Earns Second Consecutive 15th Place Finish for Key Motorsports Key Motorsports scored its second 15th place finish in two weeks in front of a "hometown" crowd this weekend at Gateway International Raceway. Scott Wimmer gave the team...

Scott Wimmer Earns Second Consecutive 15th Place Finish for Key Motorsports

Key Motorsports scored its second 15th place finish in two weeks in front of a "hometown" crowd this weekend at Gateway International Raceway. Scott Wimmer gave the team its fourth top-15 of the season in a challenging, strategy-filled race near the headquarters of primary sponsor

It was nearly a picture-perfect weekend for Key Motorsports at Gateway International Raceway; with ideal weather and a supportive crowd of fans and employees, the No. 40 Impala got off to a strong start, running 8th fastest in final practice at the St. Louis-adjacent track. A lap time of 33.876 seconds on the 1.25-mile circuit put the Chevrolet 27th on the starting grid for the 250 lap race.

Scott Wimmer immediately began his march toward the front after taking the green flag for the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, gaining nine positions in only 17 laps, but he quickly began to backslide when the handling of the No. 40 changed dramatically and abruptly on lap 18. Wimmer began to battle a tight condition which worsened with every lap, slipping back to the 23rd position and losing a lap to the leader at lap 50.

The car was "undrivably tight" when green flag pit stops began on lap 60, bouncing hard on the right front and plowing through the turns. Concerned he might have a tire going down, Wimmer pitted the following lap, hoping that four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment would fix the car that had run so well in practice the night before. When the caution came out only five laps later, Wimmer stated that the car was 100% better, and the green flag pit stop had fixed most of the handling problems.

With three more cautions in quick succession, including one for a narrowly avoided wreck directly in front of the machine's bumper, the team experimented with pit strategy and minor adjustments, trying to take advantage of the free pass and regain their lap. However, timing repeatedly prevented Wimmer from being the beneficiary, despite a climbing position and times on par with the top-10.

Restarting 18th after the fourth caution of the night on lap 106, Wimmer was once again in the Lucky Dog position, and air pressure and wedge adjustments had perfected the No. 40 to the point where he was passing lead-lap cars and running speeds consistent with the leaders. However, the Key Motorsports team couldn't catch a break. Just before the caution flag flew on lap 122, a lead lap car suddenly fell off the pace and went a lap down, once again denying Wimmer of the free pass.

Another caution came and went without Wimmer earning his lap back, but timing was finally on the team's side when the final yellow of the night came in the middle of green flag pit stops on lap 177. Though still not the free pass recipient, fuel strategy had kept the No. 40 on the track during the partially completed pit cycle, putting Wimmer in the 12th position.

With enough fuel calculated to make it to lap 190, Wimmer and crew chief Gary Showalter debated a fuel gamble, considering staying out for track position with the hopes of making it to the end. However, the team decided that attempting to finish without enough fuel was risky, and opted to pit for a splash of gas and four tires.

Unfortunately, the team discovered a large hole on the nose of the No. 40 when Wimmer pulled in for what should have been their final stop, forcing him to circle around for a second stop under caution to repair the wound, costing him two positions. Battling hard on the final double-file restart of the night, Wimmer lost one more position, taking the checkered flag in 15th.

"It wasn't a bad night for us, but not quite what we wanted," Wimmer stated after the race. "Really, the first run is what killed us...the car went really tight. I don't know if we had a bad tire or what the problem was, because after that the car ran pretty decent."

"It was a lot of fun racing out here at Gateway with everyone from here to support us. We thought we had a car that could have contended in the top-10 and we ended up 15th." Wimmer continued. "We've been running up in the top-10 and top-15 a lot this last month. I'm going to be out of the car for the next two weeks, but hopefully when I get back we'll keep this momentum up."

Curtis Key's No. 40 remains 23rd in the NNS owner standings after this weekend's race at Gateway International Raceway. Scott Wimmer's 15th place finish opened a greater lead over the 30th place car, which now sits 243 points back.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will hit the track for another night race this weekend in the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Race Park at Indianapolis. Aric Almirola will get behind the wheel of the No. 40 Chevy as Scott Wimmer steps out to drive two races for JR Motorsports.

-credit: km

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Drivers Scott Wimmer , Aric Almirola
Teams JR Motorsports