Compton 1 set of tires and 5 lug nuts short at "The Rock" Rockingham, NC Nov. 2, 2003 - Stacy Compton and the Kingsford/Johnsonville team enjoyed their best-ever run at Rockingham, but were left to consider what might have been. Qualifying 8th...
Compton 1 set of tires and 5 lug nuts short at "The Rock"
Rockingham, NC Nov. 2, 2003 - Stacy Compton and the Kingsford/Johnsonville team enjoyed their best-ever run at Rockingham, but were left to consider what might have been. Qualifying 8th and finding a good set-up during Happy Hour, the group left the track on Friday with cautious optimism about a race that is as tough as any on the circuit.
The optimism was well founded as Compton calmly worked his way into 4th place during the first period of the race. On the first pit stop, a lug nut fell off on the front, slowing the stop slightly and leaving Stacy in 7th place for the re-start. Commented Crew Chief Steve Plattenberger, "We have a terrific pit crew, but once in awhile a lug nut isn't glued properly and may fall off during the stop. It slows things down because the tire changer has to stop to put a new lug on manually. We didn't think much about it and knew we had a car capable of making up the spots that we had lost." Little did the team know that the minor lug nut problem was a sign of difficulties that lay ahead.
During the next period of the race, Compton worked his way back into 5th place and leveled off at a race pace equal to race leader Jeff Green. Stated Compton, "This place is all about saving your tires. I drove the car hard enough to keep the leaders in sight, but easy enough not to wear out my tires. It's a fine line here because, once your tires are gone, you can lose all of your track position." On the second pit stop, another lug nut fell off, this time in the rear, forcing Compton to restart in 8th place. The third set of tires was not as good as the previous two sets and Compton was only able to mount a charge to 7th.
During the final pit stop, lug nut disaster struck again as, this time, three lugs fell off while the crew serviced the car. Compton re-started in 9th and was running in 7th with two laps to go when the race leaders spun. The resulting 5th place finish was Compton's best ever Rockingham result, but left him wondering what could have happened. "It's unusual for us to lose track position on a pit stop, the guys really practice hard and they are very consistent. It's even more unusual for lug nuts to fall off continuously during your stops. It just goes to show that everything has to go perfectly to win one of these races. If we had our normal stops and hadn 't had that one bad set of tires, we most certainly would have been in 3rd place when the leaders wrecked. I'm not complaining, the car was awesome and continuing to finish in the top 5 during the next two weeks will help us reach our goal of finishing in the top 10 in the championship points."
Jamie McMurray was the benefactor of the late race accident, picking up his second consecutive win. The finish was Compton's fourth top-5 and his second in the last three races. The team now prepares for the long haul west to Phoenix for Saturday's race.