Beautiful autumnal skies set the stage for the Subway 500 held last Sunday at one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, the flat half-mile Martinsville Speedway.

Kevin Lepage, who was feeling under the weather all weekend with flu-like symptoms, began the race with his best career Winston Cup qualifying effort at Martinsville Speedway.

Racing in front of packed grandstands, the No. 4 Kodak Pontiac was free off of the corners at the start of the race. After adjustments on the Grand Prix and utilizing race strategies by crew chief Tim Brewer, Lepage moved into the 24th position by lap 85 of the 263-mile event.

However, the Morgan-McClure Motorsports entry began fading by lap 117. On lap 121, Lepage radioed his crew telling them he had no brakes. The brake pedal was going to the floor. Martinsville is notorious for its use of brakes to maneuver its tight corners. The crew knew they were in trouble and prepared to change only two tires to check the situation on lap 123. Following a pit stop observation by front tire changer Jay Hackney, Brewer decided to take the car to the garage area to replace the right front brake caliper.

On lap 136, Lepage pulled the Kodak Perfect Touch Pontiac to the service of the pit crew in the garage area. The team returned to the track after 25 laps to change the part. On lap 230, Lepage turned in laps two-tenths quicker than the leader. He never lost a lap to the leader in 475 laps that the Kodak Pontiac was on the racetrack. Unfortunately, the team was not able to capitalize on the fast racecar. The team picked up six positions after returning the track, moving up to 35th by the chequered flag.

"We had a decent car all day," said Lepage. "A team tries to prevent something like a caliper going bad, but there is nothing anyone can do when a new part breaks. It is so unfortunate that we had that part go bad on us, because for 475 laps, we never went down a lap to the leader.

"It just was not meant to be. The car was still 100% after the caliper was replaced so we were able to turn fast laps and race with really good cars. Larry radioed me after we returned to the track and told me to race the heck out of it and that is what we did.

"I worked hard on the track and passed Harvick and Jarrett and top-15 cars. The crew performed some great pit stops and Brewer made good adjustment calls. The team was able to get a little reward by knowing they had a good, competitive race car which was able to stick with the front runners. It helped turn a few huge frowns into small smiles."

 

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