20 Mar Dominique Van Wieringen Proves Tenacious in her Rattler 250 Debut at South Alabama Speedway
Although their sights were set higher than just surviving, 19-year old Dominique Van Wieringen and her NEMCO Motorsports/DuroByte team were satisfied with coming out of the 39th Annual Rattler 250 with a top-20 finish. With a reputation for a high attrition rate in the Southern Super Series late model event, this year’s Rattler 250 did not stray from tradition.
Van Wieringen rolled off the grid 17th which left her in a precarious position as several cars ranging from the 10th to 15th positions began wrecking in Turn 3 and 4 after completing only one lap. Van Wieringen was able to slow to avoid what was in front of her, but was hit from behind sending her into the wreckage.
With the race red-flagged, Van Wieringen brought her damaged No. 5 DuroByte Chevrolet to the attention of the crew where they surveyed damage to the shocks and suspension. Afforded a lengthy red-flag condition, the crew was able to make repairs and get her back into competition.
When the race finally resumed, Van Wieringen was posted on the lead lap in the 25th-position. Immediately, she started picking off positions and within 10 laps was back in the top 20. The excitement was short-lived as on Lap 14, the car directly in front of her spun and unable to avoid contact, her No. 5 Chevrolet suffered extensive front-end damage. The team continued to fight through the adversity and again got her back into competition on the lead lap.
Back under way, Van Wieringen was posted in the 24th position but the damage to the nose of the car was hampering the aerodynamics affecting the handling. Biding her time working toward the Lap 100 break, Van Wieringen focused on avoiding trouble in the hopes that under the break, the team could possibly repair the damage and they could run among the leaders.
Attempts at the 100-lap and 200-lap break helped very little as the damage was too severe, but crew chief and spotter Alex Smith assured his young driver she was gaining valuable experience and she should continue to fight as attrition could still afford the team a solid finish.
True to form, cautions were plentiful and Van Wieringen soon found herself back in the top 20. Never quitting and working together, the team took the effort as a success and a day of learning as the young Canadian brought her DuroByte Chevrolet home with a 19th-place finish. Christopher Bell won the event followed by Casey Smith, Chase Elliott, Daniel Hemric and Garret Jones rounding out the top five. NEMCO Motorsports teammate John Hunter Nemechek finished the event in the 16th position.
The next event for Van Wieringen and the NEMCO Motorsports/DuroByte team will be the Orange Blossom 300 presented by The Grilling Store, CARS Pro Cup Series event at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C. on Saturday, April 18.
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