Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Ford, has experienced success at NASCAR's various mile-and-a-half venues since being teamed with veteran crew chief Harold Holly, accumulating two wins and five top-five finishes in seven races. Hamilton,...
Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Ford, has experienced success at NASCAR's various mile-and-a-half venues since being teamed with veteran crew chief Harold Holly, accumulating two wins and five top-five finishes in seven races. Hamilton, who has qualified in the top 10 in each of the five previous Busch Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, will roll off the grid in the 10th position for tomorrow's O'Reilly 300.
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR. -25-Team Marines Ford Taurus
YOU HAVE HAD TREMENDOUS SUCCESS AT THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS SINCE HAROLD HOLLY JOINED THE TEAM LAST YEAR. IS HE BUILDING THE CARS DIFFERENTLY OR ARE THEY BEING SET UP DIFFERENTLY?
"We're building more downforce in the cars, and also different knowledge as far as springs. Not throwing rocks at the guy before, but just better notes and better preparation as far as the cars. And then when you get to these big places, I love these big places. I'm not a real big fan of the smaller tracks, I like the bigger places, so the combination kind of goes together."
WHAT ASPECT OF THE BIGGER TRACKS IS MOST APPEALING TO YOU AS A DRIVER?
"I love to be on the gas a lot. I'm one of those that hardly ever runs good at Darlington because you can't be on the gas all of the time. I like driving in hard and picking the gas up hard. I like just hanging on and Harold Holly just builds the race cars where you can do that. And also, the very first time I ever sat in one of the heavy cars, the ARCA car, was Charlotte and Atlanta and places liked that. From the beginning I adapted first to the bigger tracks while a lot of the other guys went the other route and started at the smaller places. We didn't, we just went to bigger places and I've always just had a feel for them."
IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT TEXAS, WHAT PERCENTAGE IS DRIVER AND WHAT PERCENTAGE IS CAR?
"Probably 80 percent is the car, 10 percent is the crew, five percent is confidence and the other five is driver, if they're lucky. You've got to have the whole package to win, though. For instance, if you look at the 8 car, they've got great stuff and a decent driver and they're winning races. You get in great stuff and their performance is going to pick up. You've got to have great stuff from the shop all the way to the race track. If you get that you're performance will really pick up."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS ARE COOKIE-CUTTER TRACKS?
"They're pretty much all the same. They catch a lot of slack because the first two or three years it's a one-groove race track. There's nothing that the people who build it can do. You couldn't go side-by-side at Atlanta. Atlanta four years ago, you couldn't run the top and the middle. It had to get seasoned. It's just that a lot the new tracks are mile-and-a-half tracks and the longer we run on these tracks, the more weather it has on it, the better it will get. The bottom line is we don't make the schedule; we have to go there, so there's no point in throwing rocks at the people who build the race tracks. If you have to go there you mind as well be good at them because you're going to go there for a while."
DOES TEXAS HAVE ANY CHARACTERISTICS THAT MAKES IT UNIQUE?
"This is probably one of the smoothest places we go to besides Vegas. There are no bumps anywhere; the car is really predictable and there is a lot of room. It's mistake-free, as I call it. If you get loose or if you have a problem, you can get way out of the groove here without getting run over; it's fast and it's grippy. A lot of times you trade one for the other. A lot of times you get a fast place that has no grip, but this place pretty much has the whole package. I haven't heard one bad thing about this place, besides not having a second or third groove. But once again, two or three more good winters up here and you're going to have it."
HOW DO YOU SEE THE RACE PLAYING OUT TOMORROW?
"It's going to be a tight race track. Today is a totally different day weather-wise. The Cup guys haven't been out there yet. They won't go until after we're completely done, so tomorrow will be more rubber on the race track and less grip, so you've really got to go back to your notes and set your car up the way it was last year at this time. Then again, you have to factor in the new tires, so it's a different ballgame. You pretty much know how the race is going to run, but with the different scenarios we've got now, you've really got to go to work and whoever hits it right now is going to be the winner."
WHEN HAPPY HOUR CONCLUDES THIS MORNING, THE CUP CARS WILL TAKE TO THE TRACK FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH PRACTICE, QUALIFYING AND HAPPY HOUR ALL TO TAKE PLACE BEFORE TOMORROW'S BUSCH RACE. DOES THE THREE-DAY BUSCH SERIES FORMAT FAVOR THE CUP DRIVERS MORE THAN OTHER WEEKENDS?
"As long as they are racing with us it favors them. That's as plain as you can put it because any time you can get two or three more hours, a handful of more laps on the race track, you're going to be better, you learn stuff. And that's why they win the first handful of races every year because they're up on whatever it is that's new that year. For instance, the tire information. You see them. You see Biffle and you'll see Matt Kenseth haul tail in the race. They've learned little things about the tire pressure and they've learned little things about the track that we didn't get a chance to. In all reality, those guys, unless you take them completely out of the picture, which they're never going to do, you're always going to be battling that argument as far as whether it helps. They know it helps. Some of them say it doesn't but it does, and if it didn't why are they running? They've got a ton more track time, so they're going to be fast. It's just whoever can hit it on our side is going to outrun them. We've proved it. Once we figure out as far as what this tire wants at different places, we'll be tough to handle and we saw that last year. "
DRIVERS HAVE COMMENTED THAT NEW TIRE COMPOUND HAS MADE PASSING MORE DIFFICULT, BUT THAT THIS IS WHAT THEY WANTED TO PUT THE RACE BACK IN THEIR HANDS. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT?
"I didn't ask for anything. I can go down and name a list of people that didn't ask for the new compound. I believe that if it isn't broke don't fix it. But, they're trying to make it better for the fans and keep the drivers from sitting out there on tires for 100-plus laps and winning the race. They couldn't stop it last Sunday with the 97, but normally it won't happen. They're trying to make it better for the fans, and right now it's a headache for us, but that's what we get paid to do."