USAR: Salem: Mike Hampton race report

Hampton Wins Awesome Awnings Pole Award and Finishes 5th at Salem Speedway: Mike Hampton picked up his first career Awesome Awnings Pole Award and recorded a fifth place finish in the Lucas Oil 200 at Salem Speedway driving the ...

Hampton Wins Awesome Awnings Pole Award and Finishes 5th at Salem Speedway:

Mike Hampton picked up his first career Awesome Awnings Pole Award and recorded a fifth place finish in the Lucas Oil 200 at Salem Speedway driving the #31n Ford Fusion sponsored by Eaton Corporation. Mike moved from 10th to 8th place in the in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division points at the mid-point in the regular season standings. During his pre- race interview with announcer, Gene Crane, Mike responded, "I would like to thank Eaton Corporation for making this possible; Crew Chief David "Buggy" Pletcher for preparing fast race cars for each event and Automotive Specialists for providing the power needed to get the job done today." The team has been fast at each 2008 event and the effort paid off at Salem Speedway.

As practice began under cloudy skies on June 28th, the DLP Motorsports team went into action to adjust the car for the high banked .555-mile track. Mike worked on finding the fast line around Salem and "Buggy" made changes to refine the setup. After the first hour of practice, Hampton was sitting in the 10th position on the time sheet with a lap of 18.131 so the crew continued to make changes. At the end of the two hour session, Mike had moved into the 7th position with a time of 17.942. As qualifying began, Mike was the second car to qualify on the historic Salem track. Mike took the green flag and his first qualifying lap was a 17.797 and on the second lap Mike pushed the #31 to the limit resulting in a 17.522 lap time. The DLP team watched as all the other cars took their best shot at the number one spot to no avail. It was a very happy DLP Motorsport's crew when it became official that the pole position belonged to Mike Hampton. The TV crew arrived and presented Mike with the special Awesome Awnings Pole Award hat. Mike was smiling as he went to greet the 150 guests of Eaton Electrical and a big cheer went up for the 22 year old college student. It was a great accomplishment for everyone involved. The sun was shining and the big crowd was ready for the race.

As the spectators entered the front straight for the on track autograph session, a lot of wonderful race fans spent time congratulating Mike and wishing him good luck for the race. Mike elected to start from the outside of the front row and as the green flag waved, Mike focused on running all 200 laps. When the yellow waved on lap 37, Mike gave up his 5th place position to go to pit road for 4 tires. When another yellow flag came out on lap 60, it was time to return to pit road for fuel. On lap 110 as the pit stops were completing the cycle, Mike was in 2nd position and the when the caution waved on lap 138, the DLP crew put tires on the car and sent Mike out to go the distance. With spotter John Gunther keeping a close eye on all the action, Mike was working his way back up from 10th place. When the red flag came out on lap 194, Mike was in the fifth position and as checkered flag waved, a fifth place finish was a great end to a successful day.

Mike Hampton and "Buggy" Pletcher are focused on the 250 lap event at Motor Mile Speedway on July 12th. Mike Hampton said from the DLP race shop in Mooresville, NC, "We plan to be fast and run up front".

-credit: dlpm

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