Late race gamble nets Compton 4th place at Darlington. Darlington, SC (March 17, 2003) - Rain delayed the running of Saturday's Darlington.com 200 until St. Patrick's Day. Stacy O'Compton and the rest of his Kingsford/Johnsonville team...
Late race gamble nets Compton 4th place at Darlington.
Darlington, SC (March 17, 2003) - Rain delayed the running of Saturday's Darlington.com 200 until St. Patrick's Day. Stacy O'Compton and the rest of his Kingsford/Johnsonville team had "the luck of the Irish" with them as a late race gamble brought them within two laps of victory today.
After rain canceled qualifying Compton started the race in 10th position. An ill handling racecar left him in 18th by the first pit stop. The team made several chassis adjustments and he moved up to 12th by the second stop of the day. A few more chassis changes and Compton moved to 10th position by lap 100. With 30 laps to go, the nine cars ahead of Compton chose to dive onto pit road under green flag conditions for tires and gas. In a gutsy call, Crew Chief Steve Plattenberger told Compton to stay out. That left Compton on old tires but with a sizeable lead with just over 20 laps to go. Commented Plattenberger, "We weren't sure that we could make it all the way on fuel and new tires are worth almost 3 seconds per lap at Darlington. I just thought we were going to finish 10th or worse if we followed the leaders onto pit road and if we stayed out we stood a chance of getting far enough ahead of the cars on new tires to outlast them to the end." The gamble almost worked. With only two laps to go the cars that had taken on tires caught Compton relegating him to a 4th place finish.
Said Compton after the race, "I thought Steve made a great call to stay out. We had about a 10th to 12th place car and, as a result of the gamble, we came within two laps of winning. As the cars with fresh tires caught me at the end of the race there was nothing I could do. Our tires were worn down to the cords and I'd get sideways if I tried to race with them. We needed a good finish after some bad luck in the first few weeks. We made the calls that we needed to make today to get back into the points race."
After some St Patrick's Day luck, the team may think about wearing a little green under their red, white, and blue uniforms for the rest of the season.