This Week in Ford Racing November 4, 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Ford Taurus, captured his series-leading fourth win of the season last week and inched his way closer to the championship contenders,...
This Week in Ford Racing
November 4, 2003
NASCAR Busch Series
Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Ford Taurus, captured his series-leading fourth win of the season last week and inched his way closer to the championship contenders, closing to within 125 points of leader Scott Riggs heading into this weekend's race at Rockingham. The team's ascension in the point standings coincided with the addition of veteran crew chief Harold Holly, who has led Hamilton and the Team Marines crew to all four victories since joining the team in late May. While the championship may be out of reach this year, Hamilton is confident that the second half of the 2003 season will serve as a dress rehearsal for a championship run in 2004.
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus - YOU ARE ON THE FRINGE OF THE POINTS BATTLE, CLOSING TO WITHIN 125 POINTS OF LEADER SCOTT RIGGS. WHAT HAS BEEN THE CAUSE OF THE LATE-SEASON CHARGE?
"The biggest thing that we got was Harold Holly in the middle of the year and ever since we had him come here it's just a world of difference as far as cars. Ford has really helped us out a lot here lately and the Yates motors have really picked up. Everybody kinda picked up when Harold got here. When you get good race cars you can run up front, but I think right now a lot of teams are points racing and we're trying to win every race we can. I think that's helped us close the gap."
IS THE REST OF THIS SEASON A DRY RUN FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE IN 2004?
"We're doing everything we can to build for next year. Everything we hang our necks on the line with, we're doing it because it might help us for next year. Stuff like wild and crazy springs that we normally wouldn't run, we're trying now because it might help us for next year. Everything that we're doing is pretty much for next year and we're hoping that it works for the rest of this year. The bottom line is we know we can do this and our worst-case scenario is a top-10 day. The bottom line is that no matter what anybody says or does to this team, we're still capable of winning races. Automatically the guys walk in at the shop and they're pumped up, they leave to get on the airplane and come here and they're pumped up. I get here and there is no second because I know we can win anywhere."
DO YOU EXPECT ANY CHANGES FOR NEXT SEASON?
"Just the change in the cars a little bit and that's all. All of the people will still be the same and all of the sponsors are all coming back. Everything is about the same, so we're not changing anything except the paint scheme."
IS ON-TRACK AGGRESSION A BIGGER PROBLEM IN THE SERIES THIS YEAR?
"I think what it is is that it's coming down to crunch time and you're in different scenarios. At Memphis, it was one of those things that you have to go for the win and whoever is holding you up, you pretty have to get by them, but they know that. It's coming to the guys, everybody from first to 36th, somebody has something to gain or lose. The dynamite is at the end of the wick ready to go off because everybody is trying to gain something, and if something is holding you up you kinda hold a grudge because you feel it's costing you something. It's just straight up racing grudges. Off the race track everybody still talks and everybody still hangs out, but on the race track you can tell a difference. I think it's the end of the year."
ARE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE MORE DRIVERS MAKING CAREERS OUT OF RACING IN THE BUSCH SERIES RATHER THAN VIEWING IT AS A STEPPING STONE TO WINSTON CUP?
"It used to be, but now you can make a hell of a living driving a race car running on Saturdays and having Sundays off. If you're in a great situation as far as winning races every week, it ain't that bad. Winning races over here or running 23rd to 40th every week, what would you pick? You would pick winning races. That's why moving up in a hurry isn't a concern of mine. I'm happy and Ford is really helping us out, we have Yates motors and we've got Harold and we're all wanting to win races and we're having fun every week instead of having a headache every time you walk in the garage. If the worst-case scenario is that you had to be a Busch Series driver the rest of your life, I wouldn't complain at all."
YOU RAN TWO WINSTON CUP RACES THIS YEAR WITH YOUR BUSCH SERIES TEAM. WAS THAT STRESSFUL?
"It's added stress not because you're running over there, but the two Cup races that we've done, we kinda stretched our team a little bit. We tried to cover every base with just a little bit of people and it stretches to the extreme. I don't think we're going to run any more the rest of this year, but next year I think we can build an organization that can be prepared for that and be ready, and you can go over there having two separate deals. It's really cool because we took a Busch team and finished 14th, and we were going to be better at Atlanta but we got caught up some of that wreck stuff. I think we proved that you can take any Busch Series effort to Winston Cup if you get the right people in line and all the right equipment."
YOU FATHER HAS BEEN ON TOP OF THE PIT BOX FOR SEVERAL BUSCH SERIES RACES THIS YEAR, AND YOU HAVE BEEN ATOP HIS PIT BOX FOR SEVERAL TRUCK RACES. HAS HE BECOME MORE INVOLVED WITH YOUR RACING CAREER SINCE HE MADE THE SWITCH TO RACING IN THE TRUCK SERIES?
"Since he's been running the truck series he's usually on one side of the earth and we're on the other. We don't get a whole lot of time like when he was running Cup because everywhere we'd go they pretty much were there at the same place. On the truck side they'll go to some different venues, but he has more time off. For instance, he came to Atlanta last week during the Cup stuff and just hung out. It still trades off and I see all of the business he does so when we do get the time to spend together we take more advantage of it, instead of like it used to be. The time we see each other is less, but the time we do have, we take more advantage of it."
DO YOU STILL SEE YOURSELF DRIVING FOR YOUR DAD AS SOME POINT IN YOU CAREER?
"Eventually, yes, because then you're kind of in control of your own destiny. If you want to go over and ride around in the back for four years and make a bunch of money you can do that, or if you want to win championships, it's all in your hands. It's your little playground. I want tons of experience on the Cup side before we jump in that pool because you're going to need it. He's wanting to win a couple of championships to build his team to accommodate what we need to win races or a championship on the Cup side. It's in the future, we're building a new shop big enough to do it, but right now we're taking our time making sure everything is right."