DAY/DATE:Saturday, October 16, 2004
RACE TIME: 7:00 pm EST
RACE:UAW-GM Quality 500
TELEVISION/RADIO COVERAGE:Live on NBC/PRN Radio
RACE LAPS:334 laps
RACE WINNER:Jimmie Johnson
FINISHING POSITION: 26th
DRIVER POINTS POSITION:27th
RACE RECAP:The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series were in most teams backyard this weekend Lowes Motor Speedway, located in close proximity to may competitors shops and homes. Scott Wimmer, driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge was looking for some redemption after a jack bolt backed out during the last race at Lowes Motor Speedway in May. Wimmer took to the track on Thursday was pretty decent when they unloaded. As the practice continued, however, Wimmer and crew chief Frank Stoddard were searching for more speed. Wimmer was reporting that the car was a little loose, but not too bad and overall the car felt pretty good. On the last run of the day, Wimmer picked up over two-tenths of a second that would place him among the top 30 cars. Qualifying took place under the lights and Wimmer was among the first 20 cars to make his attempt at qualifying for the race. When he completed the two-lap session, Wimmer had posted a time that unfortunately was two-tenths slower. Wimmer radioed his crew following the effort and told them he couldnt believe the lap time was that slow because it felt really good. Wimmer and the CAT team were forced to take a provisional starting position for Saturdays race.
Friday during the two practice sessions that led up to the Busch race, Wimmer continued to be concerned about the motor. He felt a vibration and a stalling out of power sporadically, but the team and head engine builder Terry Elledge couldnt find a problem. Since NASCAR mandated the one engine rule, teams must submit their engine to be torn down if they have a problem within the motor. With no real problem evident, the #22 team was forced to continue with the engine they originally had brought to Lowes Motor Speedway.
The drop of the green flag occurred at dusk on Saturday evening and Wimmer and the Caterpillar team knew they had a long road ahead of them, but knew they could accomplish it with solid pit stops and a good handling car. On lap one, the caution was quick to come out when Scott Riggs couldnt get going at the drop of the green flag and things got stacked up, causing a wreck that involved several cars. Wimmer had already progressed to 25th when the third caution of the day occurred on lap 22 when Brian Vickers violently struck the wall on the front stretch. It was a lengthy caution due to the damage to the softer walls, but once the wall was repaired Wimmer was able to bring the #22 down pit road for an adjustment to help get through the middle of the turn and off. The crew made a track bar and air pressure adjustment and returned Wimmer to the track 21st in the lineup. Shortly after racing on the inside of Bobby Hamilton Jr., for 20th position, Wimmer reported that the motor was acting up again. Although all the gauges looked fine, Wimmer was insistent that there was a vibration and a severe power problem. Wimmers times dropped off considerably. On lap 120 when the caution came out for Carl Edwards, Stoddard decided to eliminate the possibility of an electrical problem by bypassing the ignition box. The crew was able to complete the process, but lost two laps in the pits by making that change. Wimmer had been relegated to 35th and three laps down on the restart. The issue with the engine continued and on lap 172 the team checked the timing to make sure that wasnt causing the problem, but everything looked fine with the timing as well. With several accidents in the closing laps, Wimmer was able to pick up several spots and go on to finish 26th in a race that brought a lot of frustration to the team. The engine department had plans to look into the engine problem further and hopefully be able to diagnose the problem and prevent it from occurring in the future. Jimmie Johnson went on to win the event and Kurt Busch continues his lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 24 points.
NEXT RACE: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competes at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 25, 2004.