LONG POND, Penn., (July 29, 2001)& ...
LONG POND, Penn., (July 29, 2001)– Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team struggled to a 29th-place finish, three laps down, in the Pennsylvania 500 today at Pocono Raceway. Hamilton slipped one more spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup Points race to 18th, trailing Elliot Sadler by only 12 points, but holding a lead of 32 points over Ward Burton.
"At first I seemed a little tight off the corners and the car got tighter the longer I ran," Hamilton said. "We had to protect the brakes here to keep them working throughout the race. Jimmy kept a good eye on that to help me judge how much I was using them.
"At the halfway point I felt really loose all of a sudden and I thought I had a tire going flat. We came in only to find some really loose build up on the tires, but that segment hurt our lap times," Hamilton continued. "By the end of the race I felt like the car was porpoising (going up and down) through the corners. Jimmy made the call to close up the shocks and that seemed to help make us run smoother. After that I felt like the wedge had backed out of the car because it became really loose. These guys made all the right adjustments. In the last laps we had our best times and the car felt the best it had all day."
Elledge gave credit to Hamilton for his communication with the team: "Bobby does a really good job communicating to us what he needs. This pit crew was on top of their game, making record (15 seconds or less) stops all day. The biggest adjustment we made was to flatten out the rear sway bar to help tighten the car up as the race went on. Other than that we only made tire pressure adjustments. It just wasn’t our day."
Hamilton and Elledge are going back to the drawing board this week in the Andy Petree Racing shop to look for more zip in the engine as they focus their attention on the upcoming races at Indianapolis and Michigan.
Bobby Labonte captured his first win as Winston Cup Champion in Pocono. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott and Johnny Benson round out the top-five. Jeff Gordon was eighth, while Dale Jarrett crashed and finished 41st. That broke the tie between Gordon and Jarrett for the lead in Winston Cup points. Gordon now holds a 45-point lead over second place Ricky Rudd in the championship battle.