CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 17, 2001) -- Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team return this weekend to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the track where they enjoyed their greatest success thus far of the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Hamilton...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 17, 2001) -- Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team return this weekend to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the track where they enjoyed their greatest success thus far of the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Hamilton took control of the last few laps of the Talladega 500 in April and won the race, giving car owner Andy Petree, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and sponsor Square D their first Winston Cup victory.
In 2000, the Square D Racing Team claimed their best finish of the year (second) in the fall Talladega event. The RAD program—a cooperative effort in which Petree, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. share information about the superspeedway events—has claimed four out of the last five victories on Talladega's superspeedway.
Sense a pattern? So does Hamilton and the team. They look for Sunday's race, the EA Sports 500, to provide their second victory of the year, which would give them a sweep of both races at Talladega's 2.66-mile tri-oval.
A month ago, several teams, including the Square D team, did tests for NASCAR at Talladega. The Square D Racing Team took the same Chevy that departed from victory lane at Talladega in April. They experimented with several different aerodynamic packages. As Hamilton left Alabama after the test, he felt the same feeling about his Chevy that he had in April, when he raced Tony Stewart to the checkered flag. The car was ultra-fast.
"We're really excited about going to Talladega," Hamilton said last weekend during a rain delay in Martinsville. "Our car was very fast during the test and we learned a lot about our qualifying package while we were there. I'm hoping that we'll qualify in the top ten there.
"This car has made a good name for itself," Hamilton continued. "It always wants the same setup.‘ It's sort of an idiot-proof car,' is what I always say. I mean it doesn't matter what you put in it because it'll go fast."
Talladega lends itself to wide-open, side-by-side racing. "If it gets wild, I usually go to the back and ride a round," Hamilton said. "That's what I did last time there. I went up front and led one lap early. Then it seemed to be getting a little hairy up there, so I went back and rode around in 35th place until, like, 20 laps to go.
"To get to the front and stay there, you have to be real aggressive," Hamilton said. "The good part about that is the new aero rule that NASCAR has on the cars makes them race really comfortable. The bad part of that rule is how tense a driver is during the whole race. If they start shuffling around a lot, it punches a big hole and there's a lot of drafting that goes on. So, it just boils down to if you want to get mixed up in that all day or not. A lot of guys that have been around for awhile just want to take their time getting to the front -- including myself.
"When I go back to Talladega, I don't go there thinking that I have that place beat already. I go there thinking how I can beat the track again. I think this is our best car and it's the one that can do it, but Talladega is always tricky. It's just outsmarting the track and staying out of trouble that makes a winner there. I can only hope that we're the ones who outsmart the track once again."
The 188-lap EA Sports 500 will air live on NBC Sun., Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. EDT. <pre> Bobby Hamilton's Talladega Performance Profile
Year Event Start Finish 2001 Talladega 500 14 1 2000 Diehard 500 28 43 Winston 500 19 36 1999 Diehard 500 35 31 Winston 500 23 9 1998 Diehard 500 30 30 Winston 500 37 15 1997 Winston Select 500 35 31 Diehard 500 34 20 1996 Winston Select 500 39 11 Diehard 500 37 17 1995 Winston Select 500 30 15 Diehard 500 39 21 1994 Winston Select 500 39 12 Diehard 500 42 22 1992 Winston 500 34 20 Diehard 500 31 24 1991 Winston 500 14 12 Diehard 500 16 34