Hamilton Finishes Where He Starts
April 28, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Unfortunately, it was also a day when nothing really went right, either.
Hamilton started in 30th position and finished in 30th position Sunday, three laps down to the leaders, in the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway.
"We struggle at this race track and that is no secret," Hamilton said. "I'm not sure if it's the driver or that particular car, but we’ve got to work on our speedway program. Charley and I are planning on talking tomorrow (Monday) to get a game plan for the next speedway race tracks that are coming up soon."
By the first 40 laps, Hamilton had fallen a lap down to the leaders while battling an ill-handling racecar. Crew Chief Charley Pressley called for adjustments to the shocks and tire pressures to help Hamilton’s loose condition. But because Hamilton could not hold the gas pedal down like his competitors, he soon fell two laps down.
As the race proceeded, the team continued to open up Hamilton’s shocks and raise the track bar. Front Tire Carrier Jamie Frady even tried helping Hamilton’s ill-handling race car by pushing in the front fenders.
"It just seemed like every time I tried to get in the gas, the nose would hit the racetrack," Hamilton said. "We pulled tape off, made adjustments and I tried racing in different grooves. None of it seemed to make that car go faster. We've got some work to do."
Hamilton was able to make up five spots in the final 50 laps.
Hamilton hasn’t finished higher than 22nd (last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway) in any of last five races.
Newman’s fellow rookie, Jimmie Johnson, earned his first career Winston Cup victory on Sunday. Kurt Busch finished second, followed by Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin, Rusty Wallace, Dave Blaney and Michael Waltrip.
The Winston Cup Series will head to Richmond International Raceway for next Saturday night’s Pontiac excitement 400.