CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 23, 2001)& ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Oct. 23, 2001)– As the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Arizona for Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Square D driver Bobby Hamilton finds himself holding the record for the most laps completed throughout the year. Of the 9257 laps run so far, Hamilton has completed 9178.
On top of that, Hamilton and the Square D Racing Team has finished in the top 15 in six of the last seven races.
This fall, consistency has been the watchword for the No. 55 Chevy, and it won’t be any different this weekend at the one-mile flat track at Phoenix. There are 267 laps of racing in the Checker Auto Parts 500, and Hamilton intends to run every one and extend his lead in laps completed. He will also try to win, since he’s known as a flat-track specialist and he won at Phoenix in 1996. It was his first career victory and it also gave Richard Petty his first win as a car owner.
. "I’m with a team that wants to win as bad as I do," Hamilton said, "and I see us doing it again this season. We’ve worked really hard at the goals we set at the beginning of the year. My hat is off to Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) and the guys. They’re the ones who put good cars under me so I can finish in the top 15. Consistency is the key, and we’ve showed that we’re capable of running up front wherever we are that particular weekend.
"This weekend we’re at a race track that’s like nothing else we race on this whole year," Hamilton said. "It’s a D-shaped flat track and the dogleg is at the back of the track. We’ll have to focus on our qualifying for Friday because track position is key on that track. It’s tough to pass, but it’s possible if you’ve got a good racecar because there is room to race in different grooves there.
"The biggest issue we’ll face is that weather affects the track’s surface so easily," Hamilton continued. "We have the same problem at other tracks, but this one’s flat so it’s more noticeable. If the track is covered by clouds, the car wants to push up through the middle. If the sun comes out, it’ll be loose getting off the corners."
The Square D Racing Team will take the same Chevy to Phoenix that they raced in Richmond, only with a different setup– one that will minimize the effects of the weather on the one-mile oval. "In the previous times we’ve been out there, we’ve had clouds over the track and then the sun comes out, changing the track conditions on us," Elledge said. "It’ll get loose– it actually won’t turn– because the track gets slick the more they practice on it.
"It’s a driver’s race track because they have to search for grooves and move around so much trying different things to find grip on the track. They have to find a groove that works for the car the way it’s set up at that time," Elledge continued. "We know that Bobby can run well there. So our goal is to put a good race car under him that will help our momentum stay strong like it has for the past few weeks. I feel we’re at the same point we were earlier in the year when we were on the edge of winning races week after week. That’s about the time we won one (at Talladega in April).
The 267–lap Checker Auto Parts 500 will air live on NBC Sun., October 28 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.