Rockingham Bobby Hamilton Preview

Hamilton has eye on Miss America ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 27, 1998) Bobby Hamilton knows all about this Sunday's ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Speedway. After all, he is the defending champion, even if it was in another car. Hamilton, ...

Hamilton has eye on Miss America

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 27, 1998) Bobby Hamilton knows all about this Sunday's ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Speedway. After all, he is the defending champion, even if it was in another car.

Hamilton, driving for Richard Petty last year, muscled past Ricky Craven 16 laps from the end at Rockingham, then hold off Dale Jarrett for the victory. This past February at 'the Rock', Hamilton finished a strong ninth, even though pitting on the backstretch, generally considered a major disadvantage.

Hamilton doesn't want his No. 4 Kodak MAX Chevrolet to face such a disadvantage again. He says when it comes to qualifying, 'the Rock' has an ugly side and a beautiful side.

"Qualifying is going to be downright crucial," Hamilton said. "The first thing on your mind on Friday morning at Rockingham is winning the pole. The second thing on your mind is getting one of those pit stalls on the frontstretch. There are better pit locations than others on the front but, for the most part, they have a lot in common. Any pit on the frontstretch is beautiful, and when you are looking at them from the backstretch, they look like a group of Miss Americas.

"We had a good car last time at Rockingham, and we could have had a great finish there. We were pitting on the backstretch, though, and it's hard to do much of anything from back there. No matter how much you gain, you're bound to lose a lot pitting back there. NASCAR has done a lot to even things out, letting you blend in and speeding up the pace car, things like that. But there is just so much they can do. If you're pitting on the backstretch, it's going to be really tough to overcome. We didn't find that out in February but we proved it."

Among current Chevrolet drivers, Hamilton was the strongest in this season's final two races last year, winning Rockingham and finishing second in Atlanta. Morgan-McClure Motorsports was ninth at Rockingham last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

It's a positive sign for a team battling for a spot in the top 10 in the standings. Hamilton, who finished 16th in the points last year, is currently 11th, trailing John Andretti by just 63 points.

Hamilton obviously hopes that will change, in a place where change is the operative word.

"This time of year, the track can change a lot and you are never sure which direction it's going to go and how much it's going to change," he said. "A turn can be pretty loose and then, within 20 laps, start to tighten up and then, maybe 20 laps after that, start to loosen again. A day with a lot of clouds can do that. A cold, sunny day with a lot of clouds can really do that. Plus, the temperatures can drop a lot once the sun starts going down. In North Carolina, you go to the mountains this time of year to see the changing of the leaves, you go to Rockingham to see the changing of the track."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Richard Petty