Kingsford/Johnsonville Team endures "Ground Hog Day" in June. Sparta, KY (June 15, 2002) - The movie "Ground Hog Day" features Bill Murray as a network weatherman who is sent to a small town to cover groundhog day festivities, only to get caught...
Kingsford/Johnsonville Team endures "Ground Hog Day" in June.
Sparta, KY (June 15, 2002) - The movie "Ground Hog Day" features Bill Murray as a network weatherman who is sent to a small town to cover groundhog day festivities, only to get caught in a time warp that forces him to live the same day over and over again. Yankee great Yogi Berra coined the phrase "It 's dejà vu all over again." The Kentucky race was like dejà vu all over again for ST Motorsports, as they rallied from the rear of the field twice in one weekend.
Driver Stacy Compton was force to start in the rear after rain delayed Winston Cup qualifying in Michigan. "I had a plane and a helicopter all set up," lamented Compton before the race. "My plan was to qualify the cup car at 3 PM in Michigan, then fly to Kentucky for our 5 PM qualifying and happy hour. When it rained in Michigan that plan went out the window." Mark Green qualified and practiced the car for Compton, helping the team get ready for the race. Green thought that his work was done on Friday until rain, this time in Kentucky, changed the picture.
A combination of hard driving, pit strategy, and great pit stops allowed Compton to move from his 43rd place starting position to 11th place by lap 86. That's when the rains hit. A sudden downpour forced a red flag for over 2 hours while officials dried the track. A second downpour at midnight, forced officials to send the fans home; asking them to return on Father's Day for the conclusion of the race. Compton had to return to Michigan for the Winston Cup race, so Mark Green got called from the "bullpen" to fill in for Compton again. That seemed like a simple solution, but a second driver change forced the team to re-start the race from the rear again.
Green moved to 17th place within 20 laps and was in 10th place when he was forced to pit for fuel. A caution flag for debris shortly after the pit stop left the team one lap down, eventually finishing the race in 17th place.
After the race Crew Chief Steve Plattenberger reflected on the bizarre weekend. "We definitely passed more cars than anyone else this weekend! We knew that the weather needed to cooperate with us all season with Stacy trying to run both Cup and Busch. It didn't cooperate this weekend, but we still had a decent finish. Mark Green is a tremendous racecar driver and a good friend to this team. He did a great job in a difficult situation today."
Since Compton started the race, he got credit for the points and is currently 11th in the points standings. Todd Bodine edged Greg Biffle at the finish line to win the race in the most exciting finish of the year.