ST Motorsports seeking a team meteorologist DARLINGTON, SC (9/01/02) - They say that hindsight is always 20/20. For Stacy Compton and the Kingsford/Johnsonville team, the decision that they faced at the end of Saturday's Gatorade 200 was a...
ST Motorsports seeking a team meteorologist
DARLINGTON, SC (9/01/02) - They say that hindsight is always 20/20. For Stacy Compton and the Kingsford/Johnsonville team, the decision that they faced at the end of Saturday's Gatorade 200 was a 50/50 proposition.
Rain was the order of the weekend. A full day of rain washed out practice and qualifying on Friday, forcing the team to start on points in 14th position. Overcast skies and intermittent rain on race day caused the race to be delayed for several hours and to start under caution as NASCAR worked to dry the track.
Compton was fast during the event's first 30 laps and was holding his own when the team came to pit road for its first tire change. Compton restarted in 11th and was poised for a move to the front before a slow leak in his left rear tire caused the car to become so loose that it became undriveable. A caution on lap 70 left crew chief Steve Plattenberger with a test of his weather forecasting ability. If the race returned to green, Compton definitely needed to get the leaking tire off of the car; if a rapidly approaching weather front appeared before the race returned to green flag racing, the team would be better to forego a pit stop and bet on the weather halting the event.
Commented Plattenberger after the race; "I chose to come in because I knew the car was getting too loose for Stacy to go fast. The weather was definitely a gamble, but I didn't feel comfortable betting on rain." As it turned out, a steady rain began to fall as soon as the team came in for tires and gave up its track position. The race never restarted and the final lap was run under caution making the race official although it was rain-shortened.
Compton reflected on what might have been after his 21st place finish, "We could have gambled on the rain coming, stayed out, and ended up with a better finish, but the car was so good we knew that taking on fresh tires would have made us tough to beat when the race re-started. We are just having a bunch of bad luck right now and we need to shake it off. The car was definitely a top 10 car today but we don't have the finish to show for it. We just hired a team engineer, maybe its time to start looking for a team weatherman."
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