Brooklyn: Robert Pressley - NASCAR spotlight

Robert Pressley mentors racing son, chases NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2002) - In 1987, Robert Pressley signaled the changing of the guard on the Carolinas' short tracks by beating his father - and racing...

Robert Pressley mentors racing son, chases NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2002) - In 1987, Robert Pressley signaled the changing of the guard on the Carolinas' short tracks by beating his father - and racing legend - Bob Pressley for the Mid-Atlantic Region championship of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Presented by Dodge.

Not quite two decades later, Pressley has one eye on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title and another on his son, Coleman, a young man with competitive aspirations of his own.

Like father, like son, like grandson.

"When I was growing up, my hero was my dad," says Pressley."I think he was one of the best short-track drivers to ever put on a helmet. He did not have much use for the superspeedways but, if he showed up at a short track, he was the man to beat."

Pressley, racing out of Asheville, N.C., was 28-years-old when the torch passed from father to son - the latter winning the title by 45 points as the Pressley clan won a combined 24 of 62 starts at New Asheville (N.C.) Speedway and Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway.

Coleman, who competes in Legends cars, likely will be a lot younger when he challenges his father.

At age 13, the third generation driver knows what he wants to do.

"When he started racing, it was just a toy but now he's taking it more serious," said Pressley of Coleman's attitude."I'm treating him like my dad treated me. I am trying to talk him out of it but, if it is truly what he wants to do, then I will help him move up in the ranks.

"It's pretty rewarding to have him out there wanting to run my old number and follow in mine and my dad's footsteps. It's just one of those things that only a parent knows."

The kinship of competition that Bob and Robert Pressley shared will have to wait at least a couple of years for Robert and Coleman. For now, they work, side-by-side, on Coleman's car."It gives us something we can do together," said the elder Pressley.

At the same time, Pressley, driver of the No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge, is trying to recover the early-season magic that lofted him to victory at Daytona International Speedway and a three-race reign atop the NASCAR Craftsman Truck points standings.

Pressley stands eighth in points heading into Saturday's Michigan 200 (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET, live) at Michigan International Speedway. He trails leader Ted Musgrave by 155 points with 10 races remaining on the 2002 schedule.

The 2-mile Michigan track is one of Pressley's favorites. In June 2000, Pressley finished fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' Kmart 400.

"Places like Michigan, Texas, California, Kansas and Kentucky all seem to fit my driving style," Pressley said."I always raced well here but I just never could get the finishes. We had some good cars here with the Jasper team but something always seemed to happen late in the races to us. Hopefully, we can change all of that with the trucks."

Pressley and his team will be busy off the track this week, as well. The No. 18 group will make an appearance at DaimlerChrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Thursday to orchestrate a pit-stop demonstration for employees before touring the facility.

The season has been one of the more interesting of Pressley's 20-year career. Hamilton tapped the veteran to fill the seat formerly occupied by Joe Ruttman. Pressley responded by becoming only the second driver to win in his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series appearance, as he defended Ruttman's 2001 victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Pressley then finished second at Darlington Raceway and held the championship lead through the season's third event at Martinsville Speedway.

But by mid-May, after successive finishes of 14th, 31st and 30th, Pressley was stunned by the turnabout.

"I would say [winning Daytona] was the best thing that could have happened to us and I would say it was also the worst thing that happened to us," Pressley said, adding that the win may have caused some overconfidence.

Crew chief Danny Gill was released on June 1 and, after Hamilton directed Pressley to a seventh-place finish at Milwaukee, Danny Rollins moved across the shop from a sister team to take command. Under Rollins, Pressley has finished among the top 10 in three consecutive races, including a runner-up finish at Kentucky June 13.

"Danny and I seem to be on the same page about what we need to do and the guys are starting to follow him," says Pressley." We've had a few good runs in a row but we still have a long way to go.

"We know that to win this championship we have to win races."

Backed by a contending team, Pressley is enjoying life after a number of seasons in mid-pack rides.

He's also found that racing a truck is fun - and why NASCAR Craftsman Truck fans are so passionate about what they see on the track.

"The big thing about these trucks is that you can race them," he says."In the cars, it's all aero. If you touch fenders, then your day is over. Heck, with the trucks, you can beat and bang and not hurt them too much."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Joe Ruttman