CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Dec. 14, 2000) - Square D Chevrolet driver Bobby Hamilton and Andy Petree Racing (APR) will leave the confines of their Flat Rock, N.C.-based race shop to test at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., this Friday and Saturday.
It has become a busy winter for Hamilton, who prepares for his second test date with APR in three weeks. The Nashville native hopes to use the time to get better acquainted with his new race team, as well as monitor off-season work on the APR fleet of Chevrolets.
"We'll be going to Kentucky with both teams, - The No. 55 and the No. 33 Chevrolets - and this week is going to tell us how well our program is running," said Hamilton. "The boys are trying to learn how I like my body locations and spring packages and then, they'll compare it to Joe's (Nemechek, driver of the No. 33 race car) preferences. We need to find out how compatible Joe and I are because we're a two-car squad. If we can coordinate our styles, it can help us grow more quickly as a unit."
APR is taking three No. 55 race cars with different configurations and two No. 33 race cars to Kentucky. With just two drivers and a short time with which to work, team owner Andy Petree has enlisted the help from a driver with a name he could trust - Hamilton's son, Bobby Jr.
"Bobby Jr. is going to do a lot of R&D work for Andy, and it will be a good learning experience for him," said the elder Hamilton. "We're going to run an engine test with one of the No. 55 race cars. Bobby Jr. will make a 500-mile run in that machine to monitor our engine's longevity at high speeds."
"We have so much to do with five race cars that it helps to have another driver at the track," added Hamilton. "I think it helps to have my son as that third driver because he and I communicate so well. We have the same feel in a race car. It's almost like a three-car test."
Hamilton's main off-season goal is team chemistry. According to the 10-year veteran, the ability to communicate is what builds successful race teams. On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the Square D Racing Team took its first step towards developing that relationship at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway, site of No. 55 squad's first test with Hamilton after the 2000 season.
"Right now, I'm focusing on telling the guys what I want from a race car," said Hamilton. "We're talking springs, shocks and everything like that. During the Winston Cup season, there's a lot of body language that goes on in the garage. Once everyone on this team learns each other's personality, we'll get things done a lot quicker at the track."
"What gets me fired up for next year is that in Greenville, I was able to tell Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) what the race car was doing and he was able to fix it immediately. That's going to help me a lot next season because sometimes a driver will get lost because he is so aggressive with a certain feel of the race car. He knew where to draw the lines and pull me back to keep the race car with its basic attitude."