Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the No. 35 McDonald's Ford Fusion won the 2003 Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. That same year, he set the Speedway's track record and holds the record for most laps led at Kentucky. Hamilton talks about returning...
Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the No. 35 McDonald's Ford Fusion won the 2003 Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. That same year, he set the Speedway's track record and holds the record for most laps led at Kentucky. Hamilton talks about returning to the track that boosted him to a fourth place finish in the 2003 Busch standings. Currently, Hamilton is in seventh place in this season's points standings.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. -- No. 35 McDonald's Ford Fusion
You have some history at the Kentucky speedway, you won here in 2003 and hold the track record race time, does that help your confidence racing this weekend? "Yes and no. This is a different year. We had an unbelievable group then . I don't think we are running as well this year as we were then, but it is a work in progress - we are close. But having won here in the past definitely gives you confidence, because you've 'been there, done that' here -- that know your way around here. At the same time, it's a different deal because Carl Edwards and those guys [Cup drivers racing in the Busch Series] have really been on a good streak and it will be hard to beat them here. You just do what you can do and get the car set-up so you can go as fast as you can, for as long as you can and go from there. When I first race here in 2003, I just went through a crew chief change a couple of races earlier. I think the Kentucky race was the race that started a great streak for me. After that race that year, I think I ended up qualifying in the top-15 for the rest of the season, with the exception of a couple of races. And we kept running up front that year after this race. Funny thing, when we won here last, we went fishing race day morning. The track asked me to participate in a media day and I agreed, only if we could go fishing. Since I only live about three hours away, I came up here and brought my daughter. Well, we're going bass fishing tomorrow morning, so hopefully we'll have the same result this year. Fishing here is interesting, if you think about throwing your line, the fish jump up out of the water. We figured since it worked last time, we'd try it again."
You also hold the Kentucky record of leading the most laps. "Well, this a real driver-friendly race track, it has a ton of grip where you can be real aggressive with the car. And on top of that, I really like Kentucky. To be successful here, everything needs to fall into place, if you have really good equipment, you can set and hold records like that. If that contributes to anything, you just wait and see. I know what the car needs to do; Chris [Wright, crew chief] knows what the car needs to do. I know what it takes to win, we've done it and we could have been one-two here before, but we blew up with a couple of laps to go. We know what direction we should be pointed in. We can use all of the experience we've had here and get the Fusion heading in the direction and that's what we'll work for."
Is qualifying the key to winning at Kentucky?
The last four Kentucky races have been won from the front two rows. "Winning the race means you have a fast car, I'm not sure the qualifying position makes that big a difference here. Kentucky is one of those places that has a lot of grip, so handling is good, but it is not 100% of it. You can have a tight race car and still be fast. You can have a loose race car and that can be fast. Usually, if we qualify good and practice good, and all that stuff, we should have a good day. The crew guys, they are the one's that are shooting for the race. It's just one of the race tracks that can provide a good base for the car. It just means that I need to have a fast race car and good set-up. We know what the car and the track needs. So, take a good qualifying run, a solid car and knowledge of the track, and put all of that into a ball, roll it up and throw it into the race car, and make it work for you for 200 laps or so, you'll have a shot at the win."
Would you consider Kentucky to be one of your favorite tracks? "Yes, between the speedway at home [Nashville] and here, these two are definitely up there on my list. Milwaukee is a fun place, but this place here provides the type of grip that you wish every other place was had. You can run two-wide or three-wide or you can run with another guy on the outside of you or the inside. It's just a real good and friendly track for the drivers. If you are really heavy on the throttle, which I am, I like to back out early and hit the gas hard; this track kind of caters to that. It's just one of those tracks that fits me, but I'm not the only driver that likes it. I've been very lucky in the past to have good equipment with me."
-credit: ford racing