Stremme Guides Penske Dodge to Top-15 Finish in Atlanta

September 7, 2009

HAMPTON, Ga. (September 6, 2009) – David Stremme and the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team completed a strong weekend effort Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team posted a top-10 qualifying result and raced inside the top-15 throughout Sunday night’s race to capture a 14th-place finish in the Pep Boys Auto 500.


Stremme looked forward to Sunday’s 500-mile event in Atlanta knowing he had a Dodge Charger strong enough to compete inside the top-10. After earning a ninth-place starting spot with a strong performance in qualifying, Stremme radioed crew chief Roy McCauley on lap three to explain that the car was running really loose at both ends of the 1.5-mile speedway. McCauley told his driver to take care of the car until the first round of pit stops when the team would make some significant changes. 


Stremme and the Penske Dodge visited pit lane on lap 35 for service under the caution flag. The crew changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The team also made a significant chassis adjustment to the left rear of the car, as well as an air pressure adjustment, hoping to improve the handling on the No. 12 in the high-banked corners.


Stremme restarted the race in the 15th spot but was on a mission back to the front. He communicated to his crew once again on lap 52 to relay that the car was now handling tight in the center of the corners and that hurt its forward bite coming out of the high-banked turns. The ill-handling car was hindering the team’s forward progress, but Stremme was still determined to improve his position.


The team made another stop on lap 130. The Penske Dodge crew did a phenomenal job getting Stremme back on the track after changing four tires and filling the car with fuel, picking up three valuable positions on pit lane.

Stremme restarted the event in the 11th spot.  He told his team on lap 138 that the car was now too tight in the center of the corners. It took Stremme and the No.12 Penske Dodge Charger about 15 laps to settle in and find their groove, but once the tires heated up, Stremme took off. By lap 180, Stremme had cracked the top-10 and was starting to track down the leaders.


When the caution flag was displayed to the field for the eighth time on lap 268, the Penske Dodge team prepared to make another pit stop. Stremme rolled down pit lane two laps later for service. The team again bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the car with fuel. The crew also made a small wedge adjustment, hoping to loosen the car up a bit for the final run to the finish.


Stremme restarted the race in the eighth spot and was working to position himself for a top-10 result.  Unfortunately, the wedge adjustment did not agree with the car and Stremme fought an extremely loose-handling race car for the remainder of the event, as he crossed the finish line in the 14th position. With the result, Stremme remained 31st in the series standings with 11 races reaming on the schedule.


“It was a solid effort for the Penske Dodge,” commented Stremme after the top-15 run. “We were solid all weekend. We unloaded well, qualified well, and raced well. [Crew chief] Roy [McCauley] did a good job keeping up with the track and making the right adjustments to the car and the pit crew was awesome all night. We never lost a position on pit road, which is a testament to the hard work our guys put in at the shop. Our car needed long runs. After 15 laps or so our car would go. It was a good effort overall. I am looking forward to Richmond.”


Stremme and the No. 12 team will visit Richmond International Raceway for the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 on Saturday, September 12, 2009. Race coverage will air live on ABC-TV beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The race wil