Hamilton Survives Pocono

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LONG POND, Penn. – Endurance was one of the leading factors in Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, and Andy Petree Racing driver Bobby Hamilton withstood the challenge of the long day by bringing his No. 55 Chevrolet home in 19th place.

The race started a little after 1 p.m. (ET), but a red flag for a crash involving Steve Park, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr. caused damage to a guardrail that needed to be repaired. The red flag was out for more than an hour, and after racing resumed, the race was stopped again for rain.

Finally, the race ended at 7:45 p.m. (ET) as NASCAR decided to cut the race 75 laps short of its official distance.

Hamilton quickly picked up positions early in the race and was heading to the Top 10. A yellow flag waved on Lap 23 for rain with Hamilton in 11th. The team opted for four tires under caution, when others put on two, Hamilton came out 18th when the red flag was thrown for rain.

After the two-hour rain delay, temperatures changed dramatically. Hamilton told the crew after the restart that he was tight coming off the corners and loose entering them. During the next two green-flag pit stops, crew chief Jimmy Elledge tried to help Hamilton by adjusting air pressures in the rear tires.

The third caution came out on Lap 105, and Hamilton radioed that he had a flat rear tire. He headed to pit road before it was open, and the team changed the tire. Hamilton came back in the next lap so the team could check the brakes. After everything checked out, Hamilton was penalized for pitting early and had to go to the end of the longest line.

Elledge’s pit strategy figured that Hamilton could make it the rest of the way on fuel with one more pit stop, putting him in excellent position to win since most of the field would come up short.

But on Lap 137, Jeremy Mayfield hit the wall and brought out a caution. The team changed four tires and added fuel, but the gas strategy was out the window. Jerry Nadeau crashed on Lap 147, and Hamilton picked up three spots before the checkered flag waved.

“If we would have had those remaining laps, we could have picked up more spots,” Hamilton said.” The car was great today. Thanks so much for putting in a strong effort.”

Elledge agreed.

“We have found what it takes to get around this place,” Elledge said. “Thanks everyone for sticking together and working hard to get there. It was a major improvement.”

Bill Elliott won the Pennsylvania 500. Kurt Busch, Sterling Marlin, Dale Jarrett and Ryan Newman followed in the Top 5.

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