Preseason Thunder: Dodge - Hamilton interview

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram) HOW'S THE TEST GOING? "We're run 1,300 miles with that truck the last couple of weeks at Talladega. I shook it down for a couple of laps today, and I think we might be through with it unless we do a...

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram)

HOW'S THE TEST GOING?

"We're run 1,300 miles with that truck the last couple of weeks at Talladega. I shook it down for a couple of laps today, and I think we might be through with it unless we do a draft session later for NASCAR. I'm an owner. I've got two other trucks here. I love the ownership part of it. You surround yourself with good people, and I've got great people right now. I'm a mechanical owner. I don't sit behind the desk.

"My truck has been to Daytona for three years now. It's got a good record, two wins and a fourth and three poles. I only drove it one time, and that was last year. I finished fourth in it. Robert Pressley and Joe Ruttman won with it."

YOU'VE DONE A LITTLE REARRANGING

"We took the 8 deal and we put it in Chase Montgomery's shop. They're going to hire their own people and build their own trucks. We're going to work as a three-team concept. We hope it might be somebody that thinks a little different out of the box, and that might help us. We're still a three-truck team, but we only have two under the BHR roof.

"We'll be stronger than we were last year. We trimmed some fat away. We've got people in place now. We went back to what we're accustomed to. Chad Chaffin will be better this year. Kip McCord is there now as crew chief and everybody he's ever been with has won races. He's worked for a lot of people, and he's got good people skills.

"I started taking Winston Cup notes last year and tried to make 'em work with the truck. I let it happen and with five races to go I made it stop. We saw the results."

THOUGHTS ON NEW MANUFACTURER

"I'm not worried about Toyota coming in. I think it's good for the sport. I don't know how many people I've talked to and Toyota has sparked an interest in the truck series with them because that's something with a big magnitude coming to the truck series. I'm not worried about it. I don't think anybody puts more emphasis into it than Dodge does. Somebody said that Toyota is going to be tough. We're doing it, and they've got it to do, so that puts us a little ahead of the game. I don't mean that in a real bad way. I probably mean it a little sarcastic, but not in a bad way. I just don't pay a lot of attention to it.

"I think once we get past Daytona it'll be a different animal. I think any time you build anything new, this is one sport that will humble you quicker than anything you can be in. All the money in the world doesn't necessarily buy you everything. It takes time and talent and flat paying your dues. There are two things you can't buy in a store -- happiness and dues. You have to earn it. That's the way it is. It doesn't matter how much money you have. When they pay their dues, they'll be a little happier.

"You've got Chevrolets with Harvick and Setzer and Rick Crawford in Fords. You just can't say Toyota and drown everybody else out. NASCAR has got a good handle on the way the common template rules are right now. I think if anybody thinks they're going to come in and be a dominant factor, those days are over right now.

"Dodge is making everybody else step up in the truck series. Chevrolet had to step up. Ford had to step up because they knew Toyota was going to step up in a heartbeat to try to be like Dodge. Dodge still sets the standard. It's a fact Toyota has got decent drivers. I think new is new no matter how you shake it. My deal was competitive last year, but when I went in there it rocked the boat a little bit. I'm the owner. I'm the boss. I sign the checks. It just rocked the boat. Now everybody knows I've got a different outlook on things. It's nothing more than just a driver except Monday through Thursdays. It just takes things a while to gel."

DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT GOING BACK TO CUP?

"If somebody like Joe Gibbs called, I'd think about it, but you know that's not going to happen. I'm having fun doing what I do and watching Bobby Jr. and staying at home. I didn't even know what a first down in a football game was until a month ago. Bobby Jr. told me about it. I don't know who is in the playoffs and I don't care. I like meeting all the guys when they come in and hang out with us, but if it doesn't have headers and slicks, I don't play it or pay attention to it."

COMMENT ON ALL FORMER CUP DRIVERS BACK IN TRUCK SERIES

"I pay attention to a couple of past champions being back in the truck series. That makes it tougher than seven former Cup drivers being back in the series. The guys that come from Cup that have never driven a truck before will have a learning process. I was a little ahead because I had driven a truck before. It's just different. When Spencer first drove that truck for Jimmy Smith he found out you couldn't let off the gas or it would stop. They've got so much drag. It took him almost the whole Richmond race to catch on. They went on to New Hampshire (and won). If he went to Kentucky or somewhere like that, it'd take him awhile. Tony Stewart caught on pretty good. He catches on pretty good in anything. I'm looking at Skinner and Jack Sprague putting the truck series back where it was. We've been pretty polite the last couple of years. A bunch of us in here probably won't put up with what Skinner and Sprague used to do, either. It'll all work out, but it'll take the truck series back to the rough-tough deal it's always been labeled. We need a little more excitement in it without tearing up everybody's equipment, and I think those guys are going to bring it back. Last year was a mild year for us.

"I don't like tearing up my stuff because I'm the owner. I never wrecked a truck last year. Chad wrecked one at Bristol in practice. Neither one of us was in a wreck in the race. We just don't tear up stuff."

IS THE TRUCK SERIES A PLACE FOR DRIVERS ON THEIR LAST LEG?

"I came back and drove my truck, not because of my age, but because I needed a driver. I own three truck teams, and I can earn more money driving a truck half the schedule than I can driving a full Cup season. What would you do, senior citizen or not? We race hard. I don't go into the BS. We're here to race. It's a show. I'm all about putting that starter button up, pushing the gas down and getting results. I'm not trying to be mean, but I'm not push into the mud slinging. All of us are on our last leg, but I'm on my last leg in my own canoe. I can do what I want to do. I'm not going to sink it. I've got the key to the plug. Nobody else can get rid of me.

"You've got all the veterans coming back and they all know how to race. It's going to get more physical. The people who rode around and raced for points are going to have to get off the stick a little bit. You're going to have to go after winning races and then set your strategy for the end of the year. We've got a different breed of guys coming in here, and they know what it takes to win championships. I think that'll pay big dividends for them."

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2004?

"I expect to win a lot of races and the championship this year, nothing less. I sit down and monitor things. I was like an outsider looking in last year. I trimmed the fat and there's no more fat on the meat right now. This is all about confidence. When you have doubt, and me being the owner, people feed off me and they start having doubt. As long as I'm positive, they seem to be positive. I don't have any doubt right now."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robert Pressley , Jack Sprague , Chase Montgomery , Joe Ruttman , Chad Chaffin