2007 Ride: No. 40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge
2007 Primary Sponsor: Coors Light
2007 Owner: Chip Ganassi
2007 Crew Chief: Steve Lane
Stats: 36 races, zero wins, zero top fives, three top 10s, 24th in points.
Best Finish: Eighth – Talladega, April
High Point: Early on in 2007, it was Stremme, not Clint Bowyer, who looked like he’d be the series’ breakout sophomore. A litany of solid early season runs peaked with a solid 10th-place finish at Texas; finishing on the lead lap, it was the driver’s highest career finish to date. That left Stremme 12th in points, the most unlikely of Chase contenders; two weeks later, he scored an eighth-place run at Talladega, leading a lap while establishing himself as a driver to be reckoned with.
Low Point: Unfortunately, Stremme’s success was short-lived. Shortly after his Talladega success, he bottomed out into the same type of inconsistency that plagued his rookie season; in a stretch that lasted from Dover in June through Michigan in August, he failed to score a single top-20 finish.
Summary: Stremme started the year optimistic – after a reasonable finish to 2006, the 30-year-old expected significant improvement in his second season. But it wasn’t to be; chemistry with crew chief Steve Lane fizzled, and the team suffered from the loss of sponsor Lone Star Steakhouse before the first race of the season got underway. In May, Stremme traded barbs publicly with Kasey Kahne following a race at Richmond where both wrecked out of the race; but while Kahne was in the wrong, it was Stremme who lost the most momentum from the incident, failing to score a top-10 finish again until Charlotte in October.
Dropping out of Chase contention, that midseason slump left Stremme struggling to stay within the top 25 in driver points, and when Dario Franchitti came available after winning the IRL championship, owner Chip Ganassi wasted no time in picking him up for 2008 – leaving his 2007 driver of the No. 40 out in the cold.
A “lame-duck” driver from September onward, Stremme fought the good fight, but didn’t do himself any favors as a free agent-to-be – he crashed out of three of the final five races with his team.
2008 Outlook: Currently, Stremme is without a full-time ride in the Cup series, although he has been signed to a 20-race deal to run a Nationwide Series car for Rusty Wallace Inc. Driving the No. 64 car, Stremme is expected to mentor diversity driver Chase Austin while attempting to rebuild his career.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: C-
2007 Grade: C-
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Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley. Be sure to keep coming in every weekday this offseason for even more original content on Frontstretch!