Driver David Mayhew climbed behind the wheel of the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet Impala for his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway this weekend. The Bakersfield, Calif., native qualified the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) machine in the 13th position and raced his way to the front of the field to lead twice for four laps before coming across the finish line in the 10th position.
Before a full crowd, the 43-car field came to life with Mayhew in the 13th position. By lap 10, the driver powered his way to the ninth spot.
Mayhew kept his rhythm, and progressed to the seventh position as the first caution of the night came on lap 23 for the No. 31 car, who made contact with the wall in turn three. As the field slowed, Mayhew relayed to his KHI crew that he was happy with the balance and handling of the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet. The team opted to remain on track during the caution, placing Mayhew in the second position for the lap 28 restart.
As the field resumed green-flag racing, Mayhew was shuffled out of second back to third. After several laps of door-to-door racing with the No. 16 car, the rookie driver was able to make the pass and return to the second position as the lead cars roared out of turn two on lap 45.
Just as the No. 33 Chevrolet settled into the second position, NASCAR waved the yellow flag for the second time on lap 48 for the No. 02 car as it hit the wall between turns three and four. Mayhew radioed to the KHI team that the Rheem/Menards Chevrolet felt good, but could be a little bit tighter getting in and off the corners. Taking advantage of the caution period, the driver brought the No. 33 machine to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
With varied tire and pit strategies during the caution, Mayhew took the lap 57 restart from the 13th position. Less than 10 laps back under green, however, the driver muscled his way back into the top 10, running in the eighth position. Still on the move, Mayhew advanced into the fifth spot on lap 84 and relayed to his KHI team that the Rheem/Menards Chevrolet was really good.
The third caution of the 250-lap race came on lap 99 for an accident involving the No. 01 car in turn one. Running in the fifth position at the time of caution and happy with the handling of the car, the team made no adjustments to the Chevrolet but put on two right-side tires as Mayhew came to pit road. Quick work by the KHI crew gained the No. 33 team four positions on the stop and placed Mayhew in the lead for the lap 107 restart.
With the wave of the green flag, the race returned to full speed. Mayhew fought to hold onto the lead, but after tight racing around the 0.875-mile track, he settled into the third spot by lap 112.
Mayhew continued to hold the third position as the race was slowed for a fourth time on lap 153 for the No. 22 car who had developed tire issues. During the caution, the KHI team brought Mayhew to pit road for four tires and fuel. On lap 161, green-flag racing resumed with the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet in the third position.
Following the restart, second-place driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 car went to make the move around then race-leader Carl Edwards in the No. 60 car. As the two fought in a side-by-side battle for position, it opened the door for Mayhew to move from the third to second position on lap 168.
The No. 33 held steady in the second spot as the caution flag waved for the fifth time on lap 184 for debris on the track. Mayhew radioed to his team that the Chevrolet was a little free, but overall he was happy with the handling of the car. Given the feedback, the driver made the trip to pit road for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel.
Back to green on lap 190, Mayhew worked from the fifth position quickly up to second in four laps, running behind KHI teammate Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. The caution flag waved for the final time during the event on lap 218 as the No. 81 car made contact with the wall in turns one and two. Mayhew and the No. 33 team opted to remain on track during the caution and restarted in the second spot on lap 226.
Mayhew was shuffled out of second on the restart and slipped back to the 10th position. In the final laps, the driver fought to regain the positions he’d lost but remained in the 10th spot when the checkered flag waved.
Paul Menard returns to the driver’s seat of the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, August 13 for the Nationwide Series second road-course race of the season. Tune in to ESPN at 2:00 p.m. ET to watch the racing action live and listen to MRN beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Comments from David Mayhew:
“Man, I really wanted to get a better finish tonight. This No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet was so fast. We were able to run up front and race in the top five most of the night. I want to thank Kevin and DeLana [Harvick], Rheem and Menards for the opportunity to race here with this team. It was a great night, just wish we could have gotten back up there in the end.”