Hamilton Poconot race notes

Long Pond, Penn., (June 17, 2001) - Things just didn't go the way Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing team wanted in the scenic Pocono Mountains. After a dismal qualifying attempt at Pocono Raceway because of poor handling, the team made...

Long Pond, Penn., (June 17, 2001) - Things just didn't go the way Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing team wanted in the scenic Pocono Mountains. After a dismal qualifying attempt at Pocono Raceway because of poor handling, the team made great strides in perfecting the set up during practice for the Pocono 500.

Starting 37th, Hamilton patiently worked his way up through the field, taking advantage of two early cautions for debris on the track. On lap 28 of the 200-mile event, Hamilton reported a problem with third gear. The slippage indicated an inevitable transmission failure and crew chief Jimmy Elledge called for the team to prepare the back-up transmission.

Hamilton remained on the track and continued to move up , benefiting from two multi-car accidents. Following one of those accidents on lap 52, the race resumed on lap 57 with Hamilton in the 20th position. Although the team lost a lap due to a caution following a green flag stop and the lack of third gear, Hamilton was still able to maintain a mid-twenties position until late in the race.

On lap 146, while holding the 24th spot, Hamilton radioed that it was "transmission time, boys!" The replacement transmission was ready and waiting in the garage. The team was extremely efficient and quick, taking only 13 minutes to replace the transmission from the time the car hit the garage until it pulled back out on the track.

Fortunately, during the time in the garage, a caution came out because of oil on the track laid down by rookie Casey Atwood's when his motor let go. This caution bought the team some time and Hamilton only lost twelve laps, making him thirteen laps down to the leader. Returning to the race on lap 162, the Square D Chevrolet ran quite well and completed the 200-lap event in 33rd.

"The crew did a heck of a job minimizing our loss in position by that quick transmission replacement," said Hamilton. "These guys showed their stuff under pressure." Today's Pocono 500 presented a true test of skill for the #55 pit crew. Their efforts helped reduce a large potential loss in points for the Andy Petree-owned team. Although losing two spots in the Winston Cup Championship points race, slipping to 14th, the team was able to recoup 30 points that would have been lost with a DNF.

A jubilant Ricky Rudd won the Pocono 500 after an long winless streak. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top five.

-SDR

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Series NASCAR-CUP