Tenth not bad for Hamilton, Kodak team By Shawn A. Akers NEW YORK (Nov. 25, 1998) By no means was it a dream season for Bobby Hamilton. Tenth place in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings was not exactly what he was shooting for. ...
Tenth not bad for Hamilton, Kodak team By Shawn A. Akers
NEW YORK (Nov. 25, 1998) By no means was it a dream season for Bobby Hamilton. Tenth place in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings was not exactly what he was shooting for.
But, considering 1998 was only his first year with Morgan-McClure Motorsports' No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet team, and considering he did get to Victory Lane, which is more than some notable drivers can boast, Hamilton will certainly take his place on stage at the Waldorf-Astoria for the circuit's post-season awards banquet with pride.
"We're 10th in points. We won a race. We won a pole, I'd say we put together a pretty good year," said Hamilton, whose fourth-place finish in the season finale NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 8 put him 104 points ahead of John Andretti for the final top-10 spot in the point standings.
"We had hoped that we could put together a couple of more wins and be a bit higher in the points, but this was a great effort from this race team this year all the way around. This gives us a lot of momentum for '99. We're already excited about '99."
The beginning of the season was a huge question mark for Hamilton and his team, with Hamilton coming over from a stint at Petty Enterprises to take the seat of Sterling Marlin, who had great success in the seat of that car in the previous seasons.
There was no question in Larry McClure's mind, however, as to Hamilton's abilities.
"He's the man we wanted," McClure said. "We were and are tickled to bring in a driver of Bobby Hamilton's talents and caliber. He has a solid racing background that started on the short tracks around Nashville, and his career has progressed steadily since then. I can't think of a team in this series that wouldn't be proud to have him behind the wheel of their cars."
A 12th-place finish at Daytona was a disappointment for the team, but Hamilton came back to finish ninth the next week at Rockingham. The next few weeks proved rocky, as he could finish no better than 18th (at Bristol) in the following five races leading up to the Goody's 500 at Martinsville. That race track, however, proved to be a temporary cure-all for Hamilton and the team.
Hamilton dominated the Goody's 500, recording his first win ever at the tricky Martinsville track and the third victory of his series career. He also got his only Bud Pole Award of the year there.
"We were good. We were real good," said Hamilton, who would finish 14th in the second race of the season in the fall at Martinsville. "I never run good here until I drove the 43 car. They built a car specifically for this race track. It goes back to having the right equipment.
"You can say you're good here (at Martinsville), but you've got to have the equipment, and I had a good car (today). I knew at the start of the race when I passed them guys on the outside that we had a horse. Most of the time when you have a car that will go good on the outside here, it will go good in the corners."
It's the best effort and finish the team had all season. Hamilton finished second at Sears Point in the Save Mart/Kragen 350 in late June. His only other top-five finishes came in October in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte and at Atlanta in November.
Darlington and Michigan proved to be trouble spots for Hamilton. The No. 4 team couldn't finish higher than 23rd at either race at Darlington, and finished 38th and 20th, respectively, at Michigan.
The final nine races of the season proved to be the key for Hamilton finishing in the top-10. His worst run during that stretch was a 21st-place effort at Phoenix. All of the others were top-15 runs.
"We came on strong late in the year, and that's why we're going to be up on stage in New York," Hamilton said. "We're happy that we're going to be there, but hopefully in '99 we'll be in a better position at the end of the year. It was a great first year with this team, and we're looking forward to better things next year and beyond."
Hamilton's 10th-place finish marks the second time in his series career that he'll appear on stage in New York at the post-season awards banquet. He finished ninth in 1996 with Petty Enterprises, but fell to 16th place in the points in 1997.
Source: NASCAR Online