Pit strategy undoes strong Compton tun. Kansas City, KS (Sept 28, 2002) - The Kingsford/Johnsonville Racing Team finished 12th in the Mr. Goodcents 300 on Saturday and were forced to spend the long trip home considering what might have been. ...
Pit strategy undoes strong Compton tun.
Kansas City, KS (Sept 28, 2002) - The Kingsford/Johnsonville Racing Team finished 12th in the Mr. Goodcents 300 on Saturday and were forced to spend the long trip home considering what might have been.
The team spent each of the weekend's practice sessions tuning the car in race trim. They still posted the 7th fastest qualifying speed, and left the track on Friday with supreme confidence about how the car would perform in the race.
That confidence was well founded, as the car was consistently fast during the first green flag run of the day. On the first pit stop, the team opted for only two tires and returned Compton to the track in 2nd position. He had faded to eighth in the running order when the team pitted under green flag conditions for four tires and a full load of fuel. The car returned to the track a mere six seconds ahead of the leader, but was fast enough to pull away from the leaders and move back up in the running order to 12th position. The next pitstop came under caution and, again, the team chose to gain track position by taking only two tires. The move left Compton in eight place on the restart with a car that had run as fast as the leaders all day. Unfortunately, the two tire strategy turned the car's handling from neutral to loose. The team pitted on the final caution of the day in an attempt to fix the chassis, but ran out of time to move any higher in the finishing order.
Reflected Crew Chief Steve Plattenberger after the race, "We were a top ten car all weekend long, and maybe a top five car in the race. We gambled on two tires at the end in an effort to get our first win of the year and it backfired on us. If the gamble had worked, I'd look like a genius but that' s the life of a crew chief in this league."
Jeff Burton chose the right pit strategy and earned the win. Compton's 12th place finish left him in 12th in the point standings although he did close the gap between himself and 10th place. The team will use this weekend off to test a new chassis at Lowe's Motorspeedway in preparation for the final six-week stretch of the 2002 season.