Practice and qualifying took place on Thursday afternoon.
Renee finds some quiet time prior to the start of Saturday's race. Jim Clune photo.
For the WMT – which ran as a support race for NASCAR’s headlining Sprint Cup event – the green flag waved at 12:45 PM. SPEED coverage of the event aired at 1 PM, on a 15 minute tape delay.
Starting from her 19th place qualifying position in the 35-car field – Dupuis faded a bit before a lap-30 pit stop. Shortly thereafter, following a series of cautions, the team decided to pit again along with most of the field for fresh rubber.
With a much improved car, the No. 90 UNION Insurance Group Chevrolet began moving up in the field. With eight laps to go she was running in about the 15th position when, entering turn one, the No. 46 car (George Brunnhoelzl III) plowed into her left rear sending her into the outside wall. Returning to pit road the team worked feverishly on the car in an attempt to pick up any positions possible. In the end they were relegated to a 23rd place finish.
“I am absolutely livid,” began Dupuis in an expletive-laced explanation. “To get wrecked with eight laps left – running as maybe a top-15 car is absolutely ridiculous. I could see if we were fighting for a top-10 – but we weren’t doing anything spectacular out there; we weren’t going anywhere with eight laps left. George came over after the race with an apology. I shook his hand and told him I appreciated the apology but I didn’t hold back in explaining why I was so pissed. We were running in a pack of three cars – and if you look at the situation the spot was literally worth $25 in purse money and 3 points. That’s it. We got wrecked for $25 and 3
[expletive] points. His car was handling horribly – by his own admission – and to put both of us in jeopardy at a place as dangerous as NHMS was [expletive] stupid. He’s a past Southern WMT champion, he’s like a third generation racer, he clearly knows way better than that.”
She continued ranting: “The apology is a small measure of satisfaction – but in the end I almost feel like I might as well [use his apology as toilet paper]. Neither his family nor his car owner is going to write a check to pay for the thousands of dollars in damages to my car. And, once we pay for the parts – I’m pretty sure they’re not coming to the shop to help fix the car. The sport doesn’t work that way – I certainly know that – I’m just trying to make a point. I look at racing with an understanding that [expletive] is going to happen out there – I just have zero tolerance when it’s utterly avoidable. To make matters worse – he went on to finish 13th – passing us in the points. Perfect. That just icing on the [expletive] cake!”
To put the day in perspective, following the race Renee was informed that a group in search of autographs was waiting for her at the back of the team’s hauler. When Renee walked out she quickly realized it was a Make-A-Wish family. Spending some time with Matthew and his family – who traveled from Texas to meet Jeff Gordon – really put her version of a bad day in perspective.