DOVER, Del., (June 3, 2001) - Despite some unexpected struggles in the pits, Bobby Hamilton finished 20th in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs (DE) International Speedway. He left Dover still holding onto 10th position in the NASCAR Winston Cup...
DOVER, Del., (June 3, 2001) - Despite some unexpected struggles in the pits, Bobby Hamilton finished 20th in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs (DE) International Speedway. He left Dover still holding onto 10th position in the NASCAR Winston Cup points battle.
After rain washed out qualifying, Hamilton started 10th based on points, which allowed the Square D No. 55 Chevrolet to miss two crashes that claimed cars starting further back on the grid. The cars of nine drivers were damaged or destroyed in separate incidents, the first on lap two and the second on lap 15.
During the first few laps of the 400-lap race, Bobby reported that he was loose in the middle of the corners and tight coming off. The first pit stop occurred when NASCAR threw its own yellow flag on lap 58 so teams could inspect tire wear. This was done because of the lack of practice time with the new Goodyear Eagle tires designed for Dover's "Monster Mile." During that stop, the team adjusted air pressures on the tires, which helped the handling.
On lap 150, Hamilton came in under green for his second pit stop. A lug nut became hung up on the left front wheel, causing a slow stop that cost track position. He began experimenting with the top groove in hopes of gaining positions. But Bobby radioed in: "I don't have a lot of grip on the top groove. We don't seem to be making any time up there. I'm just hung out sometimes though."
Hamilton brought the No. 55 Chevy in for his third pit stop on lap 178 during a caution period after Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun on the frontstretch. During the stop, the right front wheel slipped off the posts and fell back toward the tire changer, adding unwanted seconds to the stop. Back on the track while still under caution, Bobby radioed in that he felt a vibration. Crew chief, Jimmy Elledge called for Hamilton to come back into the pits to fix the problem before the restart, which cost more track positions.
By the next pit stop Hamilton had picked up five spots, but he stated that his tires did not have the grip that the other sets did. During his last green flag stop on lap 361 for two tires and fuel, Ron Hornaday spun, allowing the team to call Hamilton back in for the left side tires.
On the final restart with 33 laps to go, Hamilton was in 20th position, which he managed to hold on to until the checkered flag dropped at the end of lap 400.
Jeff Gordon, who led the most laps, won the MBNA Platinum 400. Steve Park, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ricky Craven, and Dale Jarrett followed in the top five.