MT. JULIET, Tenn. (Feb. 6, 2003) - This year's Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., will be a whole new ballgame for Square D driver Bobby Hamilton. No longer will the former NASCAR Winston Cup Series...
MT. JULIET, Tenn. (Feb. 6, 2003) - This year's Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., will be a whole new ballgame for Square D driver Bobby Hamilton. No longer will the former NASCAR Winston Cup Series veteran run back and forth between the Winston Cup and Craftsman Truck Series garages to check on his three truck teams. This year he's dedicated himself to being right there in the middle of it, all season long. He'll be taking over the seat in his No. 4 Dodge Ram and he has readied himself over the winter for his new challenge.
The veteran is eager, anxious and ready to claim victory after victory this season. He has his sights set on one thing - and that is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship title. The battle begins with race number one in Daytona. Hamilton's teams have claimed the last two victories on the 2.5-mile superspeedway and Hamilton paced the field in this year's Daytona Preseason Thunder testing. But he has to start somewhere to reach his goal, so what better place to do it then the Super Bowl of the truck series - the Dodge Dealers 250.
Bobby, are you ready to race this year in the Craftsman Truck Series?
"I'm so excited that I can't sleep well at night anymore. We've worked so hard over the winter on these three trucks that we feel like we can conquer anything. I've finally had the chance to be in the truck shop full time and see what goes on there. We've worked all hours of the day, even into the middle of the night sometimes. I'm proud of these guys, all of them. They've been patient and worked as hard as they can with no complaints.
"We spent a lot of time working on this package for Daytona. Then we tested it out by trying a few new things we thought might be better. As it turns out, we went back to how we had them right off the truck. We think we have this superspeedway program pretty much figured out. Our teams have the luxury of pushing these trucks in the corner after the Daytona race is over until the next season's Daytona race. We have a lot of trucks ready to go in the shop. That helps us over the winter months to get ahead for future races."
Your trucks have won the Daytona truck race two years in a row, so do you think one of your teams will make it three?
"They say that the third time is a charm. I'm looking for another win for BHR. We've done it with different drivers so the equipment is good. Not only is this the Super Bowl for Winston Cup racing, but it is for trucks too. I'd like to have all three trophies sitting next to each other in my shop, whether I win it or one of my other two drivers does (Chad Chaffin, Bill Lester)."
Among this year's changes, you've also added crew chief Newt Moore to your team roster. Why did you choose Moore as your crew chief?
"Newt and I have known each other for a long time. We used to race together at Nashville Speedway. I wanted him to work on my team because I think he will understand me and how I like things to be done.
"I paired my other two drivers up with people who I thought they would be compatible with too. We want that chemistry and so far it has shown that we do indeed have it. When I looked around the garage at our Daytona test, I saw all of the teams comparing notes with each other. And that is what helped all of us test well. That type of program is what we are looking for here. Newt is just as hungry as I am for wins, so we'll make a good combination."
Can you compare what it's like to race the Craftsman Trucks versus the Winston Cup cars at Daytona International Raceway?
"I ran the first truck race here three years ago. I started fourth and I fell back to 30th right at the beginning when my clutch messed up. But by the fourth lap, I was leading it and on the ninth lap I was running 20th again. That's what the fans like to see. If a train gets running on you, you can just let off the gas and say, 'OK, I've got 700+ horsepower, and I can gas it back up and catch them in a minute.' Nobody has to be impatient.
"On Winston Cup cars there is a little spoiler and a little restrictor plate. If you lift just one time, you're out of the draft. And you are not coming back in it for a while, it's done. So what does that tell you that you have to do? You have a car owner breathing down your neck and your sponsors are all there and you can't lift. That is how wrecks start. You sit out there in your car and say, 'I can't lift and I hope I don't wreck.' That's when the big one happens."