Saturday, Country Roads Motorsports attempted not just one but two of motorsports biggest races. The Elite Rich Mar Florist Indianapolis 500 and Elite JoinAPS.com C2 Freight World 600. Yes, 1100 grueling miles in one day. Our goal was just to finish all 1100 miles, the finishes would sort themselves out.
That goal was cut short just 6 laps into the Indianapolis 500. Complete driver error on the outside of turn 4 saw Hank Steinmiller make wheel contact with a car underneath him and shot the SportShift Media car straight into the wall. A terrible, terrible end to a two week adventure of practice and qualifying all to be erased in just 6 laps. Disappointing to finish 33rd, but took away some confidence from practice and qualifying for the next opportunity to hop in an IndyCar.
Later in the day, Steinmiller hopped in the Cup car for 600 miles at Charlotte subbing for Jeff Green. After an end of line penalty to start the race off for an improper banner (debatable), we were able to drive from 33rd to 9th in the first stage. Four stages in the 400 lap race (every 100 laps) really took pit strategy out of the question. The next 200 laps was all about keeping the car clean and setting ourselves up for the best position in the final stage.
That strategy worked out for the most part as we started Stage 4 in second place. Behind the leader by just over a second at one point, Steinmiller closed the gap to 0.3 seconds on lap 344. A strategy call had us pit on lap 350 to try and gain some time on the leader and hold the lead for the final 15-20 laps. Unfortunately this strategy was marred by a caution while coming back through the field on fresh tires forcing us to take the wave around and not use another fresh set of tires. This ill timed caution put a top 10 car 21st after 600 miles.
It was an awesome experience for the entire CRM team to compete against some of the best drivers in two different cars. The experience gained alone was worth the time put in for each race. We’re excited to see how we stack up the next opportunity we get to do the double.