The Look Of A Wimmer

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HAMPTON, Ga. -- Prior to last weekend, Scott Wimmer had every hope of a great finish in the ARCA Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

That didn’t happen, and all Wimmer could settle for was a top-25 finish in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA 500. Some disappointment.

When rain canceled qualifying for the Georgia Boot 400 ARCA race Friday, team owner Bill Davis made a decision -- much to Wimmer’s surprise -- to enter Wimmer in the NAPA 500.

The result?

Not only did Wimmer make the race -- his first in Winston Cup competition -- but he also led a few laps and made a big impression on many at NASCAR’s highest level.

With bad weather threatening the entire weekend of racing, and his team not having enough points to get in the ARCA race, Wimmer said he thought he wouldn’t even have a chance to race at all.

"It wasn’t looking too good at that point," said Wimmer, who had hooked up with Davis only weeks before to finish out the NASCAR Busch Series season with the No. 20 AT&T Pontiac team. "I was thinking it might be a wasted weekend, but then our team’s general manager came up to me and asked me if my ultimate dream was to go Winston Cup racing some day. I said, 'Well, yeah, someday.' I never dreamed it would be Monday."

Davis said he thought the low-keyed Wimmer was ready to run a Winston Cup race, so he told BDR General Manager Mike Brown to tell Wimmer the good news.

"Mike asked him about it, and told him that today was the day," Davis said. "I wasn’t there to see his reaction, but I was told that his eyes just lit up. He’s a pretty reserved person and doesn’t show much emotion, but I was told he was pretty happy about getting the chance."

Wimmer didn’t let Davis down Friday during qualifying. He made the show, putting his No. 23 AT&T Pontiac in the 31st position, giving Davis three cars (besides Ward Burton’s and Dave Blaney’s) in the 500-mile event.

Wimmer said when the starting lineup was released, he was thrilled beyond belief.

"You know, you come here to run an ARCA race and just to get some experience, maybe run a few laps, and you wind up running your first Winston Cup event," Wimmer said. "Talk about the shock of a lifetime. Unbelievable."

Wimmer stayed on the lead lap during the early portion of the race, and then the leaders pulled into the pits for fresh tires and fuel during the first caution. Wimmer stayed out and, lo and behold, he had the lead. He led for seven laps under the caution flag.

When the green flag fell, Wimmer maintained his position out front for two laps, despite relentless pursuit from Dale Earnhardt and a couple other of the series’ top stars.

"That was pretty scary," Wimmer said. "I was up there with a couple of guys – Mark Martin and Steve Park. That was a little nerve wracking in my first race, racing with those guys. But they treated me real well. They could have been a lot worse. They took the air off my spoiler a couple times and made me a little loose, but I guess that’s all part of it."

"I was very impressed with how Scott handled himself out there," Davis said. "He was racing with a lot of guys up there, and even when he dropped back he would race with the 28 (Ricky Rudd), the 5 (Terry Labonte) and the 4 (Bobby Hamilton). He had an incredible performance. He ran out of fuel, and that was our fault for not calculating correctly, otherwise he might have stayed on the lead lap the entire race and got a top-15 finish out of it."

Wimmer did run out of gas during a green flag run and lost a couple of laps, but it certainly didn’t diminish what was otherwise a solid day for the Wisconsin native.

"We actually had a pretty good car," Wimmer said. "We led a couple laps and then fell back to fifth and I got in line again. At that point, the car was really good. But just as more rubber got down all day we just ended up tightening up and tightening up and could never get that out of the car. But we finished 22nd, and that’s not bad. We led a couple laps and finished the race. Now we can look ahead to Speedweeks in Daytona."

Wimmer won’t be making his second Winston Cup start in the Daytona 500 in February, but he will be driving Davis’ No. 20 machine in the Busch Series 300-miler there. The team is still looking for a full-time sponsor, but Wimmer is scheduled drive the full season for Davis in the Busch Series.

Wimmer has already made three Busch Series starts for Davis. He finished 18th and on the lead lap at Memphis, 19th after starting 29th at Phoenix, and, after starting from the 15th position, he finished 43rd at Homestead when he got caught up in an accident after only 13 laps.

"Scott’s got a tremendous amount of potential, and that’s a good, solid race team," Davis said. "We’re going to run the full Busch schedule and get him in a couple of ARCA races, and maybe some Winston Cup races next year, just to get him some more laps. We haven’t got a sponsor for that team yet, but with the way he ran yesterday at Atlanta, I can see a few phone calls coming our way.

"He’s a great driver, and we’re very much looking forward to next year for Scott to show what he can do."



Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2000, NAPA 500

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