Bobby Hamilton has been labeled a flat track specialist, but the 42-year-old driver of the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo doesn't completely agree with that stereotype. The Nashville, Tenn., native says he shines on slick tracks,...
Bobby Hamilton has been labeled a flat track specialist, but the 42-year-old driver of the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo doesn't completely agree with that stereotype.
The Nashville, Tenn., native says he shines on slick tracks, and that's what he's hoping for when the green flag falls on Nov. 7 for the Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.
"The only flat track I think I do well on are flat tracks that are slick," Hamilton said. "Some tracks we go to don't necessarily get slick, just like Martinsville. The time it really got slick, we won it. The other times it hasn't got that slick, and we weren't that good.
"Phoenix usually gets slick because it's so hot out there, and the sun beats down on it. If I consider myself a certain type driver, it would be a slick track driver, not necessarily flat or banked. It just seems I run pretty good at the tracks that are slick, whether it's Rockingham or Darlington or wherever."
Hamilton scored his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory at Phoenix in 1996. He won the pole there in 1997 and still holds the qualifying record at the one-mile oval with a lap of 131.679 mph.
Ranked 13th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings with three races remaining in 1999, Hamilton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc., team are still looking for their first victory and pole of the season.
"I actually think the last three tracks left this season will be good ones for us," Hamilton said. "That's what we're hammering on. We're trying hard to put a win together. We met at the shop, and I told them we need to pull out all the stops out for Phoenix. We met for half a day trying to figure out which car to take, going through everything possible to make the right decision.
"We're going to take our Richmond car. We had it at Phoenix last year, and we've come a long way on it. It was new then. I don't think it's ever finished out of the top seven or eight, but we haven't run it that much. We were torn between that car and the new car we had at New Hampshire. We really liked the way that car qualified, but we decided to carry the one that raced the best.
"We need to qualify better at Phoenix this time. It's just like Rockingham (started 35th). We came up through the field, but that uses up the car. I've learned something about Rockingham when it's green. None of the other people will do it, but when they drop the flag I can go. If we had started up front, we would probably have led the race.
"Phoenix is one of the tracks where I usually qualify in the middle of the pack. Then if the track gets slick, we start going to the front. I always run well at Phoenix. That place is about like Rockingham for us. We're usually a top 10 car there. We broke a motor in qualifying out there last year and had to start 40th. We just stood on that time. It's the same deal, you can't give away that hour's worth of practice on Saturday.
"We need to start qualifying better. We've got to fix the whole package to qualify better. We usually race pretty good, but we've got to fix the car where it will qualify strong and race strong. We're shooting to win one of these last races. We want a pole and a win. We can do it at any of the next three tracks."
Hamilton will be going for his third straight top 10 finish, and the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo team hasn't been able to pull off three straight top 10s so far this season. A strong stretch run enabled Hamilton and company to finish 10th last year, but Hamilton says he's not really concerned about points for the rest of this season.
"We're just going to focus on winning a race and a pole," he said. "I know we can win one of these last three races. I haven't raced much at Homestead. In fact, I've just been in two All Pro races there, but they say it's a lot like Phoenix. I hope that's the way it turns out.
"I know the team is really pumped up. They want to win as much as I do. We 're getting good pit stops now, and it's making a difference. The team finished fourth last week in the pit stop competition at Rockingham, and that's a big feather in their caps.
"They've been working hard on that this year. It carried over into Sunday's race. They had some real good stops. I came in one time with Dale Jarrett and went out a straightaway ahead of him.
"I know we'll have a good race at Phoenix. I just hope that it's sunny and hot and everyone is slipping and sliding out there. Then you'll see that No. 4 Kodak Chevy shine."