Atlanta II: Bobby Hamilton preview

Jimmy Elledge discusses team's grueling testing schedules. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 21, 2002) -- The Schneider Electric Racing Team just came off a whirlwind tour of testing for the final races of the season. Driver Bobby Hamilton and his crew ...

Jimmy Elledge discusses team's grueling testing schedules.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 21, 2002) -- The Schneider Electric Racing Team just came off a whirlwind tour of testing for the final races of the season. Driver Bobby Hamilton and his crew members tested at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway before the race two weeks ago in Charlotte. Then the team drove to Charlotte and raced. The very next morning after the rain-delayed UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Hamilton and the Schneider Electric Racing team got on a plane and flew out west to test in Phoenix, Ariz. After three days of testing, the crew members flew home to Asheville, N.C., from Phoenix. They were given one hour to go home, and repack their clothes before they caught plane for this past weekend's race in Martinsville. On Sunday night after the Old Dominion 500, the crew members flew home and finally got to sleep in their own beds after being gone for 12 days straight.

Is a testing schedule on top of a race schedule too much for crew members and drivers to endure in one year? If you calculate racing in 38 events, including point and non-point races, the Schneider Electric Racing team is gone from home approximately 151 days per year. Add in seven NASCAR-approved test dates, which usually includes three to four days each time. And don't forget to include days for rain-delayed races, wind tunnel testing, an appearance schedule or testing at non-regulated tracks totaling somewhere around the ballpark of 230 days. It might be easier if we calculated the days the team is not working!

Teams are given six weeks off from racing until it is time to test once again in Daytona Beach, Fla. for the next season. Is this enough time off? Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge discusses how the test schedule should be revised to give teams more time to spend at home.

Jimmy, should teams get more time to test throughout the season, or should testing be done in the off-season?

"No way, testing should be outlawed (said jokingly). If they find your hauler on the road within 250 miles of a race track other than on a normal race weekend, they should impound it and not let you race that weekend. That way teams won't test at any track anywhere, anytime. But on a serious side, we race 36 weeks a year and have two non-points events we try to race in, and that can be grueling enough. If you throw in seven test dates, two more required tests at Daytona and Indianapolis, wind tunnel time and any other tests we do at non-regulated tracks that might help us for a race, we are never home. And every time there is a rules change, there needs to be more testing."

Do you have a different crew that tests for the team or do you use the same road crew and driver?

"We use the road crew mostly at our tests, but it really depends on where we are testing. If we are testing different things with the chassis, we'll bring some of the body hangers or if we are testing the motors, we will bring our engine builder. It would be nice to create a test team and not make it so hard on everybody. It would help give us more time off, but that would be taking people out of the shop more. And that place works like an assembly line, one person's job depends so much on the next.

"As far as driver, we have to use Bobby because he's one of the key pieces to the program. We need his input in what he thinks makes the car more comfortable for him to drive."

-ser-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton