No.12 Penske Dodge Finishes 31st in Talladega

April 26, 2009

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April, 26, 2009) – The No.12 Penske Dodge Charger and driver David Stremme enjoyed a strong performance Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway until a multi-car crash with 10 laps remaining in the Aaron’s 499 collected the Penske Racing entry and it was relegated a 31st-place finish.

Stremme had to start from the rear of the field in the 188-lap event because of an engine change after qualifying, but the South Bend, Indiana driver knew he had a machine capable of running in the lead pack. By lap 15, Stremme had positioned himself solidly in the top-10, running in the sixth spot. The 31-year old racer knew he would have to be patient in order to continue his way to the front. 

When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 28, Stremme prepared to make a pit stop. He radioed to his team explaining the car was handling a little tight in the corners. He rolled down pit lane on lap 30 for service. The No. 12 team changed four tires and filled the car with fuel. The crew also made a chassis adjustment to the right rear of the car, hoping to loosen its handling for the next green flag segment. 

On lap 34, the green flag was displayed to the field and Stremme was running in the seventh position. He called into crew chief Roy McCauley six laps later to explain that the adjustments the team made helped, but the car was still tight-handling. McCauley told his driver the team would make another adjustment on the next stop. 

For the next 50 laps, Stremme held his position in the top-10, using the high side of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Stremme knew he would need to keep his momentum and the high side of the track suited the Penske Dodge. He worked with veteran drivers Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin to aid his progress.

By lap 100, Stremme had the No.12 Dodge running in the third spot. He again called into McCauley to report that the car was still tight and he was now feeling a vibration in the steering column. Fortunately, the caution flag was displayed several laps later, allowing Stremme to bring his car to pit road. The Penske Dodge returned to pit lane on lap 125 for service. The team changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The No. 12 crew also made another chassis adjustment to the machine in hopes of freeing the car’s condition in the draft. The pit crew did a great job getting Stremme back onto the racing surface as the team picked up four spots on pit road.

During the next green flag segment, Stremme was again on the move. He landed back in the top-10 by lap 134.  The top groove remained a favorite spot for the No. 12 car as Stremme used the high line to his advantage. Running three- and sometimes four-wide down the straightaway, Stremme continued to pass his competitors.

When the caution flag flew for debris in the corner on lap 146, the team knew this would be its final visit to pit road. McCauley gambled and bolted on two right side tires only and filled the car with fuel. The team had a lightning quick stop, picking up an impressive seven positions on the pit lane.

With only 10 laps remaining in the event, Stremme was making his move back into the top-10 when he was caught up in a multi-car crash on the backstretch. The damage to the Penske Dodge was extensive, ending the team’s day. With the finish, Stremme dropped two spots in the season point standings. He now sits 22nd in the rankings, 164 points outside of the top-12.

“It was a tough day,” commented Stremme. “We had a good car and I was just was taking my time getting to the front.  We were just caught up in someone else’s mess there at the end. There was nothing I could do. The track was blocked and I was just at the mercy of the cars around me. I just hate it for all the guys on the No.12 Penske Dodge. We had a really solid run going. We showed our strength by running up front and I could go from the back to the front with ease. I am looking forward to going to Richmond and having a strong day.”

The No.12 Penske Dodge will race under the lights this Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.  The Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 can be seen live on Saturday, May 2nd on the FOX television network. Race coverage is scheduled to begin at 7 pm EST. The event can also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.

David Stremme Aaron’s 499 Statistics
Start: 37th
Finish: 31st
Laps: 179/188
Laps Led: 0
Status: Accident