CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2001) - The last time driver Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team saw Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, it was from victory lane after Hamilton's win in the Darlington 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event in May. As...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2001) - The last time driver Bobby Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team saw Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, it was from victory lane after Hamilton's win in the Darlington 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event in May. As the team prepares the Square D Chevrolet for Sunday's Southern 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, they know their driver has a special knack for getting around the track labeled "to tough to tame." Hamilton has four top-10 finishes in the last five Cup races at Darlington.
In May, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and the Square D Racing Team gave up their Mother's Day weekend off - a rare free weekend in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series - to help Hamilton in the truck race at the 1.366-mile oval, which is NASCAR's oldest speedway. It was a relaxed weekend, to be sure. Hamilton took only five practice laps the entire weekend as he and the team spent most of their time racing their remote control cars in the driver's motorhome lot. On raceday, Hamilton led the most laps before handily winning the race.
"It's a driver's racetrack, hands down," Hamilton said. "It's a neat place to run. It challenges machines, shocks, springs, tires and patience. But I feel like I'm getting to know that track because I've had several top 10's there. We were pretty strong in the spring. And having this team at the truck race helped get us some more time on that track. I think we can use this weekend to turn this program back around."
When Hamilton and Elledge compete together in Darlington, Lady Luck seems to be on their side. Elledge acknowledges the tough times the team has had since the victory at Talladega , but holds his chin high with the hope that Darlington can provide the boost the team needs.
Elledge states, "If we're going to hit bottom, then we've hit it. Now we're going back in the other direction. The communication is back where it was with the team earlier in the year when we ran well. It's just going to take a little bit of time for everything to get built back up. We've let it get torn down and now it's time to move back up there in this points battle.
"I'm looking forward to going to Darlington. We're taking a Chevy that Bobby's really excited about. And we ran really well there in the spring so we'll go there and see what we've got. I know that we're all still behind Bobby 100 percent. We're going to give it all we've got."
Hamilton echoed this sentiment on the team radio last Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) as he drove the car onto the lift gate of the No. 55 hauler following the race. "Hey guys keep your chins up," he said. "This team has done it before together and Darlington is a good place for us to start."