Bristol: Stacy Compton and team ready for a break

Bristol may be just the break Compton and Company need DETROIT, Mich., March 20, 2002 - The Winston Cup Series doesn't take its first break until next week, but the temperamental factor of aerodynamics gets a vacation this weekend at Bristol...

Bristol may be just the break Compton and Company need

DETROIT, Mich., March 20, 2002 - The Winston Cup Series doesn't take its first break until next week, but the temperamental factor of aerodynamics gets a vacation this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and that is just fine with Pontiac driver Stacy Compton.

The .533-mile high-banked concrete oval at Bristol throws aerodynamics out of the equation and simplifies the race-weekend storyline. For Compton and his new crew chief, Mike Hillman, it is an opportunity to net their first top 10 of the season and a chance for the race shop to revamp the Grand Prix fleet to Hillman's liking.

Compton posted a career-best Bristol finish of 11th in this event last season, despite pitting on the back straightaway, which is a well-known disadvantage. With a new caution-flag pit stop procedure in place for this weekend's event, Compton is hoping to erase that personal Bristol-best.

The new yellow-flag pit-road procedure begins with the pace car picking up the field in turn three (as opposed to turn one). All lead-lap cars will enter pit road at the turn-two entrance (regardless of frontstretch or backstretch pit position). Cars pitting on the frontstretch will drive the backstretch pit road, then on the apron to the frontstretch pit entrance in turn four. Cars pitting on the backstretch will follow the same path. All cars will exit pit road using the exit in turn one (source: NASCAR).

Thoughts From Stacy Compton, No. 14 Conseco Pontiac Grand Prix:

HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR CHANCES AT BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND?

"I think our chances are probably as good as they've been all year. I don't think aerodynamics are as important this weekend and I think that may be where we're lacking a little bit - in our bodies - so, I'm pretty pumped about it. "I've always seemed to run pretty good at Bristol and the Conseco Pontiac has run pretty good there in the past, too, so we're pretty pumped. We're all pretty optimistic that we can go there and have a pretty good weekend."

DOES THIS WEEKEND GIVE YOUR TEAM A REPRIEVE FROM THE AERODYNAMIC BATTLE WITH OTHER TEAMS?

"It does, definitely. If you've got a decent chassis, I feel like you can go out there and run well. You've got to keep the fenders on the car, that's for sure. But, aerodynamics just aren't as important here as they are at a place like Atlanta or Vegas or even at Darlington. "We feel like we've been off a little bit body-wise, and I think this weekend we'll be back a little bit closer to those other guys, just because aerodynamics aren't as important. This is good short-track racing and that's what the majority of us were brought up on in racing. I'm looking forward to it, I know that."

DOES THE MAKEUP OF THE POINT STANDINGS SURPRISE YOU A LITTLE BIT RIGHT NOW?

"Yes and no. You almost always see this early on. Points are so easy to get now and so hard to get later in the year. I think you're going to see things shuffle a little bit in the next three or four races and the consistency will start coming out. "There's no doubt that Jimmie Johnson is doing a great job; Ryan Newman is doing a great job. They've got great teams to work with, but I think that surprised some people that they've run as good as they have. But, there is no doubt in my mind that before it is all said-and-done that you'll see the same group of regular guys will be right back in the points chase by the end of the year."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW PIT-ROAD PROCEDURE AT BRISTOL?

"I think it's going to be a lot like Martinsville. It could help. As it was, it was a pretty big deficit sometimes to be pitting on the backstretch. Now, I think it may be a little more fair. It's still going to be tough, once you get to the front-stretch and it gets bottled up with everybody trying to get out. But, I still think it's going to be better than it was. I think they made a wise decision in trying to even up the pit roads a little bit."

Thoughts From Mike Hillman, Crew Chief, No. 14 Conseco Pontiac Grand Prix:

DOES THIS WEEKEND GIVE YOUR TEAM A REPRIEVE FROM THE AERODYNAMIC BATTLE WITH OTHER TEAMS?

"Yeah, it definitely does. Aerodynamics does not play a big role at Bristol. It's more about chassis setup and the shock package. This week and the week off before we go to Texas should really help our program quite a bit."

IS THIS WEEKEND A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR TEAM TO HAVE SOME SUCCESS?

"I sure hope so. I've qualified and run real well there in the past with Brett Bodine and I think Stacy really likes the place, so I think this could be the turning point we need. Then, going to Texas next week to test for two days will really help us. We haven't had the opportunity to do that, yet."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW PIT-ROAD PROCEDURE AT BRISTOL?

"I think it will probably is going to make it a little more equal. It will give you the opportunity, if you're at the end of the line, to not have to take two tires instead of four. But, it's still going to make it very important for track position and when you pit. It's going to be a little different. It's going to take all of us a little time to see how it's really going to work out."

-pontiac racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Stacy Compton , Jimmie Johnson