Owner Jenkins encouraged despite Martinsville adversity
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Bill Jenkins of Vermont-based Latitude 43 Motorsports confirmed to Vermont Motorsports Magazine on Tuesday morning that driver David Stremme will continue to drive the #26 Ford at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10. The Subway Fresh Fit 600 will be Stremme's third-straight race with Latitude 43.
Following Boris Said in the first four races of the year, Stremme raced the Air National Guard car for the team at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 21 and at Martinsville Speedway on Monday. After getting caught in a lap-170 crash that forced the team to replace the car's radiator, Stremme retired from Martinsville in 37th place with a broken rear gear. Despite the bad finish, Jenkins was impressed with his driver.
"I couldn't be more happy with David," said Jenkins. "He ran as fast as anyone in the field, even with a damaged car. There was no qutting in him, even though the race didn't go that well for us." Jenkins said that Stremme is going to pilot the car at Phoenix, but that Said remains with team: "We're excited for David to race at Phoenix, but Boris is still a very important part of this team. We'll take it one race at a time."
First-year owner Jenkins said that he wasn't happy to have a wrecked race car at Martinsville, but was thrilled with his team's performance under pressure, led by crew chief Frank Stoddard of North Haverhill, N.H.
"Watching Frankie Stoddard and his crew repair the car was a marvel to behold," said Jenkins. "They got the radiator changed and fixed everything else from the crash in about 35 laps, which isn't a lot of time at Martinsville. Nobody quits on this team, they all did an incredible job.
"In building a new team in any sport -- racing, football, whatever -- it doesn't matter how you act in victory, it's how you come together when you're challenged. I learned a lot about the young men on this team after that incident yesterday. There was no give-up in the garage, the pit stops were great all day, and everyone worked well together."
Latitude 43 now ranks 38th in Sprint Cup Series owner points and will have to qualify on speed at Phoenix without the benefit of a provisional starting position. Jenkins doesn't see it as a reason to worry.
"[Monday's race] was a true test to see what this team is made of, and I couldn't ask for more than what they gave," he said. "I'm very proud to know these guys."
(Photo courtesy Latitude 43 Motorsports Facebook page)