BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Finished 3rd)
"The track was great. The biggest thing was figuring out tires, what they like, what they didn't like. Everything that we did last year on the other tires, these tires didn't like. That was the biggest puzzle, figuring those out. Overall, where we ended up, we were a third-place car. I started making a run on those guys and just used my stuff up and ended up fourth in points, and in all reality that was the goal we set. If we were going to race for the championship those guys were going to have to have some major problems, and even if we finished 43rd today with the way the season went, four wins and all of the top 10s and top fives, the team and myself are tickled to death."
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR END-OF-SEASON RUN AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"I think it was the momentum we had, and Harold Holly is one of those people that just keeps building you up and putting you on pedestals and makes you believe you can't fall down. That's the way he's got those guys believing, that's the way he's got me driving. Just everything. Everything we had from the side of the Marines coming back with us, all of our associate sponsors, the Yates program picked up, Ford stepped their whole program up with us. Everything that we needed to do what we did we had. We had Harold Holly, who has won championships and tons of races, so we had tons of notes to go off of. We had great aero stuff. We had everything we needed to win races, so to end up where we were, it's a surprise because we made up so much points, but in all reality considering what we had, it was what we should have done."
YOU WERE STRONG EARLY IN THE RACE WHILE THE OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS SEEMED TO STRUGGLE. DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT THAT POINT?
"I never once asked where they were or where we were as far as points because as soon as I did you fall right in the same boat they were in, you'd blow a tire or something. That's why I didn't even want to know. We were going to our deal. We got in front and I tried to get where I could lead the most laps, but the 1 car was just too strong for us. At the very, very end I was trying to look at the scoreboard to see if the 2 was around or look in mirror and see if I could see the 37, or the 10 or 57 because those guys were in reach. From where we were at to fourth was in reach, so that's what really in my mind I was racing."
WITH THE WAY YOU ENDED THE SEASON, DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A FAVORITE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT YEAR?
"I don't know about the favorite. The 8 car, he's always stout when he runs. I don't know what their plans are. Every time he runs he's good, but definitely, we can carry this momentum. Like I said, the Marines are back with us. Everything, there's nothing changing. We even stayed in the same shop. Everything is still the same as it was in the middle of this year. All we're going to do is build different race cars, some more race cars to get us more prepared and go after it. We've kept the same guys and the pit coach has really turned those guys around. There's no need changing any of that stuff. We have everything staying the same. I don't consider myself as one of the favorites, but if we can go out and do the same thing that we've done the last half of this year, I think we'll be OK"