The Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire started out calm for all the drivers Saturday night. Ed Pompa, driving the ‘Turn One Condos-Double H Ranch’ Toyota #22 for Fast Track Racing, started 33rd. “We had a plan of just hanging out in the back with a smaller pack and log laps, hoping to stay out of trouble”, said Pompa. “Got hooked up with the #37, the #10 (teammate Tony Mrakovich) and the #38 and we were just riding. Somewhere around lap 15, I started losing rpm’s. Wasn’t sure what was the cause, but I couldn’t keep up with our pack draft on 7 cylinders. Tony (Mrakovich) was beating my back bumper off with bump drafts, trying to keep me in the draft, but it wasn’t helping. We decided to make a green flag stop to try and fix the issue. Just before I hit the commitment cone, the first caution came out, so I jumped back out on the track, staying on the lead lap.” Under caution, the team brought the car in for attention. In the pit, Ilmor engineers found a bad plug wire, and quickly replaced it. Ready to return to action, the engine would not fire, acting like a dead battery. 2 attempts at push starting failed, as the field passed on the track, putting Pompa a lap down. Finally, the engine fired and Pompa returned to the track.
At the drop of the green, Pompa was the 4th car one lap down, and quickly made his way past the other 3 to put himself in position for the free pass. That came when the #30 had issues, bringing out the 2nd caution of the race.
Crew chief Gary Ifft brought Pompa in for fuel only, planning this as the last fuel stop of the race. Having received the free pass, Pompa was back on the lead lap for the restart. “The first caution fell just at the right time” said Pompa. “With the issues I had so far in the race, and now getting back on the lead lap, I felt we were back in the game.” Daytona had other plans. Shortly after the green flag flew, the #33 got turned into the wall in the tri-oval. Ducking low to avoid the accident, a tap from another car sent the #22 for a spin, and then wound up getting tagged by the #2, who was in the grass also trying to avoid the wreck. The radiator and oil cooler were punctured: race over. “As the safety trucks arrived, I saw my car on the big screen at the end of pit road: I knew we were finished.”
“I knew I had cameras on my car as I climbed out, so figured I might as well give the sponsors on my firesuit some TV exposure” said Pompa. “Not exactly how I would prefer it, but sometimes you’ve got to take what you can get. Thanks to Turn One Condos for coming on board for Daytona, to Andy Hillenburg for the opportunity to race, and to the crew for all their hard work all week.”