JIMMY ELLEDGE (Crew chief No. 41 Target Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Elledge got his first victory as a crew chief with driver Bobby Hamilton at Talladega in 2001. Hamilton passed away Sunday at his home near Nashville, Tenn., after a bout with cancer. The 49-year-old owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing won the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship and four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
"When we won that race at Talladega, that was back when we ran a practice motor and then put another motor in for the race. Bobby went out and ran a little bit and came back in and parked the car. He wouldn't tell me anything about the car, so I followed him into the truck. He was changing clothes and I asked him if we needed to do anything to the car. He said no and asked me if the race motor was a little better. I told him it had a couple more horsepower and he said we'd be fine. You had to pry it out of him, but he knew we were going to be good and we won the race the next day.
"Bobby really meant a lot to me. He's the guy I won my first race with and so far it's still my only win. Bobby taught me a lot about a lot of things. When he came to the team in 2001 that team was two years old and he came in and really embraced the guys. He really had some neat qualities. He came over every week and spent the day with us and took us to lunch and stuff. He was a real solid figure that that team needed at the time, and I needed, too. He'd calm me down when I'd get upset.
"One of the funniest things that happened was probably at Sonoma. He had his transmission hanging up. We were running really good. The caution had come out and we were right behind Jeff Gordon. I told him he had to pit this time by because the lap down cars pit with the lead lap cars on the road course. I told him if we got good track position we could get our lap back. He didn't pit and I went off. I started yelling at him. I was cussing and raising cane, and he was laughing. He said 'just calm down, everything will be fine.' That's the way he was. Instead of yelling back at me he was laughing at me.
"I didn't get to talk to him a lot after he got the cancer. I talked to him at Martinsville once, and he said he thought everything was going to be OK. I talk to Bobby Jr. a lot. He was probably the best link I had to keeping up with him. I went hunting in December with Andy Petree and he kept me up to speed. It's unfortunate. It's a huge loss, but you just never know. A couple years ago he was the champion, then he's diagnosed with cancer and bam, it's done. I hate it for the whole family. He got a special treat with his little grand daughter. When Dale Sr. passed away I know how I felt that my kids never got a chance to know him. The time he had with his grand daughter was precious, and that's the way you've got to look at it."
"It's really odd. Yesterday before I left to come down here, I'm building a building and I'm building a room to put the car we won Talladega with in. Andy (Petree) gave me the car, and I'm going to fix it and put it in the showroom. I came across the trophy we got at Talladega and one of the screws had come out. I was fixing the trophy and put it in a closest. I thought it was a shame. You win trophies and you move and you go through life and see a trophy you won five years ago and I was just thinking about that day we won at Talladega yesterday. When we got here John Darby had called and left me a message, and I thought that was really strange that I had been thinking about that win earlier in the day.
"You know the inevitable will happen eventually, but you hope it doesn't happen. When I got the phone call I was very disappointed and upset , but at the same time you don't know anybody to suffer. I know he's in a better place now. It's unfortunate for all of us here. We wish we still had him here, but you prepare yourself in a situation like this. You know the time is limited, but it's a sad, sad day. That's for sure"
-credit: dodge motorsports