DAY/DATE:Sunday, September 19, 2004
RACE TIME: 1:00 pm EST
TELEVISION/RADIO COVERAGE:Live on TNT/MRN Radio
RACE LAPS:300 laps
RACE WINNER:Kurt Busch
FINISHING POSITION: 36th
DRIVER POINTS POSITION:26th
RACE RECAP:The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series headed north to New Hampshire International Speedway for the first race of the 10 race chase for the cup. Scott Wimmer, driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge, and Frank Stoddard, crew chief of the #22, decided to make just race runs during Friday mornings practice session instead of making qualifying runs. They were banking on the predicted rain moving into the area by the time qualifying was slated to take place. Wimmer was one of 10-12 drivers that used that strategy. Qualifying went off on time, but rain began to fall after 15 teams made their laps. Eventually, NASCAR cancelled the remainder of qualifying and determined the qualifying line up according to owner points, which placed Wimmer 26th on the grid for Sundays Sylvania 300.
The rain continued to fall on Saturday and NASCAR made the decision to cancel all Cup activity for the day. This meant that the teams that made race runs would hopefully have an advantage over the ones that didnt.
Sunday morning brought lots of sun to New Hampshire International Speedway. The race got underway and Wimmer immediately reported that he had chatter in the nose and was tight off the turns. As a result, Wimmer slid back to 31st when the caution came out on lap 17 when Robby Gordon spun in turn one. The team opted to come to pit road and make the needed adjustments, a wedge and air pressure adjustment, and returned to the track with four fresh tires. The first 15 cars on the restart had remained on the track. Wimmer restarted 31st and had advanced a few spots when the mandatory caution came out on lap 35. This time the team used the strategy to remain on the track, while other teams opted to pit. This gave the CAT team the needed track position, moving up to 11th on the restart. Wimmer experienced chatter on the nose for the first few laps after the restart and then the car would get better, although still tight off. On lap 64, Robby Gordon spun Greg Biffle and collected Jeremy Mayfield and Tony Stewart, which brought out the third caution of the day. Wimmer returned to pit road and got a track bar adjustment and four tires with an air pressure adjustment and returned to the track 16th. Once the race went green again, Wimmer advanced a few spots but gave them back when the car continued to get tight. On lap 102, Jeff Green spun Wimmer and sent him into the outside retaining wall, causing enough damage to send them to the garage for repairs. The team replaced the lower A-frames and some more suspension parts and eventually got Wimmer back to the track on lap 157. Wimmer continued to race until the team couldnt gain any more spots, finishing a disappointing 36th. Kurt Busch won, allowing him to sweep both races at NHIS.
NEXT RACE: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competes at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, September 26, 2004.