DAY/DATE: Sunday June 27, 2004
RACE TIME: 3:00 pm EST
RACE: Dodge/Save mart 350
TELEVISION/RADIO COVERAGE: Live on FOX/PRN Radio
RACE LAPS: 110 laps
RACE WINNER: Jeff Gordon
STARTING POSITION: 25th
FINISHING POSITION: 25th
OWNER POINTS POSITION:26th
RACE RECAP: The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series spent the weekend in the Napa Valley, competing in the first of two road course races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit. Scott Wimmer, driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge, had tested at the 11-turn course in April with his team and also participated in a driving school with coach Matt Riley. Riley, also accompanied Wimmer to the race this weekend to help coach the driver and work with crew chief Frank Stoddard.
Friday found the #22 in a decent position to have a respectable run for a rookie that had never raced at Infineon Raceway and had only competed in one road course race in his short career. Wimmer was concerned with the way the carburetor was performing, so the crew worked diligently to repair that problem. Wimmers qualifying lap was smooth, placing him 25th on the grid while Jeff Gordon won the pole for the event.
Saturdays practice sessions brought some frustration with the carburetor problem and the team was never able to completely resolve the issue they had with it bogging down in various locations around the track. Wimmer was fairly pleased with the way the #22 was handling and the team made little changes to the setup for Sundays race.
The green flag dropped for Sundays race and quickly went under caution when Tony Stewart and Ward Burton spun on lap three. Wimmer had gained a couple of spots when the caution came out on lap 16 for debris. Wimmer remained on the track and had been fairly quiet on the radio other than to say he was a little loose. The carburetor was still sputtering and was especially bad off turn 11, one of the best places for teams to make a pass. By lap 33, Wimmer had progressed to 17th when he made his way to pit road for a scheduled fuel stop. The team gave the #22 four tires, fuel and made an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment to help make the #22 a little tighter. Wimmer returned to the race 34th and had fought his way back to 29th when the caution came out once again on lap 44. Wimmer again pitted to get four new tires and an air pressure adjustment and returned to the track 34th. On lap 65, Wimmer had again fought his way through some traffic to gain some positions and was running 28th when the caution came out for debris. Wimmer was still reporting that the #22 was a little loose and the team could definitely see the problem with the carburetor, but Wimmer was fighting for every position as the laps wound down. With five laps remaining, Wimmer reported that the #22 was out of fuel. Stoddard knew they would be a little close on making it, but knew that five laps were too many to have miscalculated. So, Stoddard coached Wimmer through the closing laps and had him take it easy just in case he was running too low on fuel. Wimmer had made his way to 21st when he gave up those few spots in the closing laps to conserve fuel. The team had enough fuel to go the distance and went on to finish 25th. Jeff Gordon gave a dominating performance and went on to win the event. Jimmie Johnson continues to lead the points and Wimmer is 26th in the standings.
NEXT RACE: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competes at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 3, 2004.