Schrader Has Rough Ending

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NASCAR fans and "M&M's"® Racing Team fans alike have been waiting since September 16 to watch the Winston Cup Series make its second stop at New Hampshire International Speedway. With an appropriate postponement of the race following the September 11 attacks, NASCAR's top series made its final laps of the 2001 season on November 23 at the one-mile oval just outside Concord, N.H.

In an uncanny day of 50-degree weather in the typically frigid northeast, the Winston Cup series spent the Thanksgiving weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway…or at least part of the weekend. Friday, November 23, was a one-day show at NHIS. There was no qualifying for the event, as the field was set based upon owner points at the time the race was scheduled to run. The line-up on points placed the No. 36 Pontiac in the 20th position for the start of the race.

With the cold weather and no qualifying, NASCAR scheduled a 45-minute practice at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Teams got a feel for how their cars were responding to the chosen chassis setup, but no one seemed to be having problems with blistering tires. The race, however, proved a much different tire situation as numerous teams had either blistered tires or some suffered blown right fronts.

The No. 36 "M&M's"® Pontiac seemed to have slight problems with blistered tires compared to the majority of people on pit road. The "M&M's"® Racing Team's two early pit stops showed a tight handling condition, but no blistering.

With the tire situation under control, the "M&M's"® Pontiac appeared to have a solid race car and a shot at a top finish. In their first eight laps the No. 36 had improved seven positions to 13th in the running order.

The tides all changed on lap 117 when Schrader radioed that the car was overheating and he was coming into the pits. When the crew checked under the hood for problems, they found that the belt, which controls both the water pump and power steering pump, had rolled off, leaving the motor with no cooling mechanism and no power steering.

The team spent 34 laps in the pits replacing the belt and filling the car with cool water. As a result of a mechanical problem, Schrader and the "M&M's"® Racing Team finished 39th in the final race of the season, dropping to 19th in driver points.

The "M&M's"® Racing Team now has six weeks to prepare for pre season testing and roughly eight weeks to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 17, 2002.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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