BUSCH: Homestead Phil Hammer Gets Set for 2000

Hammer set for debut with ST Motorsports HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 9, 1999) The calendar shows Saturday's HotWheels.com 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway as the final race of the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season. For that...

Hammer set for debut with ST Motorsports

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 9, 1999) The calendar shows Saturday's HotWheels.com 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway as the final race of the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season. For that matter, it's the final series race of the millennium.

But for crew chief Phil Hammer, it's the first step toward getting ready for the 2000 season.

Hammer, a veteran of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, is in his first week as the crew chief for ST Motorsports and he's already got the Kingsford/Match Light Chevrolet team thinking about next year.

"As far as we're concerned, this isn't the last race of 1999," Hammer said. "To us, it's the first step of the next season. The last thing anybody on this race team wants is to go about the final race as if it doesn't mean anything.

"We can't move up in the point standings this year, but we can generate a lot of knowledge and momentum for the next season. The team that wins the final race has a special bounce in their step during the off-season. That's what we want - that special bounce."

The race will mark the final appearance in the No. 59 Monte Carlo for driver Mike Dillon. He will drive a car for his father-in-law, Richard Childress, in 2000. Veteran Phil Parsons will take the controls of the No. 59 Chevrolet next year.

"The faces in the organization really haven't changed much for next year," said car owner Tad Geschickter. "We moved some people around and we brought Phil Hammer in to organize everything. We're very excited about our future. I think we've added some real balance to our equation."

Dean Johnson and Ray Stonkus, both who have served as crew chief this year for Dillon, will have new duties with ST Motorsports. Johnson will work at the team's new race shop, while Stonkus will head up the team's new research and development program.

Hammer did research and development for Jeff Gordon and he served as crew chief for Ken Schrader at Hendrick Motorsports. Most recently, he worked with Rich Bickle at Tyler Jet Motorsports and Bobby Hillin Jr. in the NASCAR Busch Series.

His job at ST Motorsports is to get Parsons into Victory Lane next year. At the same time, he's organizing the move into a new 33,000-square-foot shop in Stanley County, about 15 minutes south of Concord, N.C.

ST Motorsports also is focusing on the 2001 season, Geschickter said. While Hammer and Parsons work to get that team on the winning track, the team plans to add a second full-time car to the racing stable a year later.

"The nice thing about our new shop is we have lots of room for expansion," Geschickter said. "We'll do a lot of the groundwork for the second team next year, but our primary focus will be on getting Phil Parsons up front. By the time the 2000 season rolls around, we're going to be loaded for bear."

And the best way to do that is to get the ball rolling with Mike Dillon at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"We still have plenty of business left in 1999," Hammer said. "The 2000 season is the long-range focus, and part of that focus includes a solid performance in Homestead. We're taking one of our best cars to Homestead and I think everyone is really excited about the challenge of winning the final race of the millennium."

nascar.com

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