APR Teams Experience Problems

TALLADEGA, Ala. – The Schneider Electric race team finished the caution-less EA Sports 500 in 32nd position today two laps down to the leaders because of problems fueling the car in the pits. Interim driver Ron Hornaday did his best and drove the No. 55 Chevrolet from his starting position of 29th all the way up to fourth before the team fell off the pace of pit stops with the leaders.

Because of the new 13-gallon fuel cell that NASCAR mandated for this race, all teams had to pit every 30-36 laps. The Schneider Electric Racing team called Hornaday into the pits on lap 34 for right side tires and fuel.

But because of a miscommunication in the pits before the stop, the gas tank did not get filled completely. The gasman, Darwin Schimmelpfenning, thought the team was going to take on four tires and backed up away from the No. 55 Chevy to allow the rear tire changer to get to the left side tires. Once the jack dropped, Hornaday thought the pit stop was over and sped off with a partially filled fuel cell.

The team regrouped before the next stop. This time on lap 65, four laps before the rest of the field, Hornaday drove on to pit road for more fuel and left side tires. When Schimmelpfenning turned to get the second can of fuel he tripped over the tire that was lying on the ground behind him and fell. Then the jack dropped and Hornaday sped off placing him on the race track off the pace with the leaders without a full tank of gas.

Schimmelpfenning, who twisted his knee and was in pain, was taken to the infield care center and diagnosed with a torn ACL. Once the news got back to the pit box, crew chief Jimmy Elledge scrambled around the pit area to find a temporary replacement. Larry Hartle from AC Delco Busch Series team was kind enough to fill in as the gas man.

On lap 95 Hornaday pitted under green. As he drove into the pit box, he missed the pit stall. The team had to push him back into the pit box before they could change right side tires on the car. This time the car was filled full of gas and Hornaday was sent back out on the race track off the pace from the lead pack, but behind his teammate Kenny Wallace.

The duo did its best to draft together and stay in front of the leaders, but the freight train that followed them quickly caught up. Hornaday preferred to race in the inside groove and did his best to stay up front hoping for a caution. On lap 166 the team pitted for the last time for gas only before they went on to finish the caution-less EA Sports 500 in 32nd position. Elledge apologized to Hornaday as he climbed from the car.

“Thanks for filling in for us Ron,” Elledge said. “I’m sorry we couldn’t get it together for you out there. I feel really bad about this race. You did a great job behind the wheel and held your own out there on the track.”

No Bull Five participant Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his third straight race in Talladega. Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd, Kurt Busch and Jeff Green followed in the top five.

Wallace Finishes 33rd
Driving in a one-race deal for Andy Petree Racing, Kenny Wallace finished 33rd in the No. 33 CALL-ATT Chevy in the EA Sports 500.

Wallace is the regular driver of the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge, but made a commitment to drive the No. 33 Chevy at Talladega before he signed the deal with Davis.

With qualifying rained out on Friday, Wallace was the final car to make the field. Although getting to the front in a restrictor-plate race isn't all that uncommon, Wallace couldn't find the right combination throughout the day and wound up three laps down to winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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