White knuckle rides for Bobby Hamilton

During the last 10 or so laps of the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Bobby Hamilton held the steering wheel of his Kodak MAX Film Chevy so tight that the blood left his hands. He was dicing it up in wall-to-wall traffic with a ...

During the last 10 or so laps of the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Bobby Hamilton held the steering wheel of his Kodak MAX Film Chevy so tight that the blood left his hands. He was dicing it up in wall-to-wall traffic with a loose race car. But he held on for a white knuckle ride that left the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team in 14th position. One might agree that the entire race could have presented a challenge for Hamilton, a Nashville, Tenn., native. He piloted the No. 4 Monte Carlo through the field from 41st starting position in an impressive run to the front. By lap 41 of 200 he was in 19th spot, then by lap 123 he had fought his way up to seventh. The pit crew, lead by crew chief Danny Gill, serviced the Kodak yellow racecar with fast stops to help keep Hamilton in the hunt for a win. There's more on the way folks. The fist-clinching, heart-pounding, fender-banging racing of Bristol Motor Speedway is next on the white knuckle tour. As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns south, to its grassroots tracks, it looks like Morgan-McClure Motorsports is on the rebound. The team's changes are beginning to come together. Hamilton has a wicked gleam of focus that intense drivers get when they are on a mission to win. It's been 81 races without a trip to victory lane. The Goracing.com 500 is held in Morgan-McClure's backyard. Everyone wants a good run at their home track, and Bristol is located about 30 minutes from the race shop in Abingdon, Va. Nothing but a win could be sweeter to the team than a top-10 finish. Well, a pole would be nice. Whether this happens or not, Hamilton and his crew will head into race No. 23 with momentum that was lacking several weeks ago. And you can bet he will be ready to clinch the steering wheel for a temper-flaring frenzy at the Bristol corral.

Bobby Hamilton quotes

"We had a fast car. I drove my butt off coming up through the field. The guys in the pits made good stops and kept us up front all day. I think we had some shock problems. We weren't counting on the caution at the end, but that's the way it goes. I think that might have cost us a top 10 finish. The program is coming together. I was happy with the day, but we had a top 10 car."

"Bristol is our home track. It's a really important race to us. We had a fast car there in the spring. We started in the top 10, then had a decent top 20 finish. The past two weeks we have improved our program. There are still little mishaps going on that need to be fixed, but we're getting it together. We carry a 16th and 14th-place finish into Bristol. Those finishes might not sound great, but they translate into momentum for us.

"The night race at Bristol is exciting to me. I like the way the light reflects off of the cars. I like night racing. We bang up the cars at Bristol. Some of the drivers are impatient, and that's the wrong place to be impatient.

"The whole deal has an essence of its own. The cars, lights, being surrounded by fans, the tempers flaring are all things that make it such a unique place. I'm looking forward to going. We need to qualify good and stay out of trouble. If the car is as good as I think, we'll be great. I'm ready."

Larry McClure quotes

"We had a pretty good car. We're making strides. Hamilton ran hard all day. He did a good job of staying out of trouble. He is one of the best drivers out there.

"We had decent pit stops. They are not what they should be. There is room for improvement, but the guys are working hard and doing a good job. Everything went smooth. We had a good race. I'm pleased for the team. It gives us something to build on. It gives this team something positive to focus on. They've had more than their share of negative things this season.

"We always look forward to going to Bristol. We're in a precarious situation in points. We can't make a mistake qualifying now, because we could easily miss a race. Bobby Hamilton is as good a racer at Bristol as anybody. We have a real, real good Bristol car. Our setup there works good. I feel good about going. I also think Hamilton and the team are ready. If we can just have a little more good luck...well...somebody has to win.

Danny Gill quotes (note-The Pepsi 400 in Michigan was Gill's second visit to the track, ever. His first time as crew chief. His goal was to break the streak of 20th or worse finishes for Hamilton in the past seven visits. Goal accomplished.)

"We had a top 10 car without a doubt. It just got loose there at the end. Something happened in the right rear, and the car got to bouncing around going into the corners. He just couldn't get after them there at the very end. The two-tire pit stop towards the end of the race was my call. Four tires might have been better. Had it stayed green, it would've been the right call. You just don't ever know when a caution is going to come out and mess up all of your pit strategy. If you look back at this race's history, I think an excessive amount of caution flags flew. We could have maintained a top 10 without the cautions.

"Bristol will be exciting. I have experience from the trucks running there. I'm familiar with the track. Each week we improve. I have to say I was disappointed last week (Michigan). Hopefully this week, we'll improve some more. Qualifying is of great importance. I realize how important this track is to Morgan-McClure, so the pressure is on for a good performance."

Hamilton/Morgan-McClure Bristol Stats

2000
Food City 500-Started 8/Finished 15

1999
Started 7/Finished 18
Started 36/Finished 41

1998
Started 40/Finished 18
Started 33/Finished 11

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton