It’s the oldest motivational phrase on pit road but it won’t sound like a cliché the next time Bobby Hamilton Racing crew chief Kip McCord tells his guys, “Don’t give up.”
It would have been easy for the crew to hang its collective heads after the first time over the wall on Friday at Dover International Speedway, when driver Chad Chaffin exited with a left-side tire on the right front of the Dickies Dodge. Chaffin, who’d been among the top 10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series MBNA America 200, forfeited that track position with a return to pit road.
McCord and company thus were able to gamble a bit some 30 laps later and top off Chaffin’s fuel tank – a move that ultimately would hand driver and crew chief their first series victory.
Both join a distinguished list of BHR winners – now at four drivers and six crew chiefs. Hamilton has won five times in his own No. 4 entry, most recently in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Joe Ruttman took the No. 18 to victory lane five times. Chaffin’s victory in the same truck follows two wins by Robert Pressley, the most recent at Michigan International Speedway in July 2002.
Hamilton’s winning crew chiefs are McCord, Tim Fowlkes, Danny Gill, Danny Rollins, Newt Moore and Fred Wanke.
Chaffin’s boss, Hamilton, was among the winner’s victims and was predictably low-key after the race. “Bobby came in and told me thanks,” said Chaffin. “Bobby is not a man of a lot of words. He doesn’t say a whole lot (but) he’s a great boss. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Second-place finisher Rick Crawford wound up carrying an unintended “passenger” in the MBNA America 200 – his Sears Ford’s truck cover, which the crew hurriedly had folded and shoved into the right side of the driver’s compartment.
Crawford will be making his 180th career series start – all of them consecutive – in this week’s O’Reilly 400K at Texas Motor Speedway.
Raybestos Rookies learned first-hand why Dover International Speedway has been dubbed “The Monster Mile.” Nine of the 11 freshman candidates either were involved in or knocked out of the race by accident. The top finishing rookie, Robert Huffman, finished 11th marking the second consecutive race in which a rookie has not made the top 10.
Andy Houston’s eighth-place finish was his 49th series top 10 but the first of the 2004 season. “Any time you can knock off a top 10, especially as tough as the competition is right now, it’s a good day,” said Houston.
Mike Skinner remains the most consistent leader of series races. The 1995 champion, who’s headed five of six events this season, has led 40 of the 60 races in which he has taken part. That’s 66 percent.
Skinner isn’t that far ahead of other race leaders. Greg Biffle ranks second at 64 percent, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr. with 61 percent.
Dave Blaney, subbing for Shelby Howard, took the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota to the team’s first top-10 finish on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Blaney ran third for much of the middle stages of the race but were caught a lap down by a green flag top followed by the caution.
“If we could have just kept our track position … I think we would have had a shot at the race,” said Blaney, who was seated in the truck on a one-race basis to give the Davis teams some R&D input.
Dodge has won four consecutive series races at Dover International Speedway.