Bobby Hamilton sets first test

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Nov. 29, 2000) - NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Bobby Hamilton will get a crash course in Andy Petree Racing 101 as the Nashville, Tenn., native tests with the Square D Racing Team this Thursday and Friday at Greenville-Pickens...

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Nov. 29, 2000) - NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Bobby Hamilton will get a crash course in Andy Petree Racing 101 as the Nashville, Tenn., native tests with the Square D Racing Team this Thursday and Friday at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway.

Even though the 2000 Winston Cup season just finished 10 days ago, the No. 55 squad and its new driver feel that it is important to get a head start on 2001.

"The main agenda is to learn the new race cars that I'll be driving next season and to create a great working environment for the Square D Racing Team," said Hamilton, who replaces the team's former pilot, Kenny Wallace. "I need to get accustomed to APR's race equipment and gel with Jimmy and the boys. We want to accomplish these things before we get to Daytona (Fla.).

"The big thing this week is that we're bringing three different types of race cars," added Hamilton. "Each one will have a unique body and a different chassis that I'll have to learn. I also want everyone to be on a first name basis by the time the season starts. We need to know each other's personalities and habits ahead of time so we can focus on racing. A key ingredient for this race team is for us to know each other's body language so we won't waste any time explaining ourselves during the course of the year."

Bringing in a new driver means an entire overhaul of the No. 55 fleet of Chevys. With countless items to change on his "to-do-list," crew chief Jimmy Elledge knows that his team must first start with the basics.

"We're not going to test this week like we're trying to set the land-speed record at Greenville-Pickens," said Elledge. "We're looking for some direction in a lot of little areas. The first thing we need to do is get a seat that feels comfortable to Bobby. We can't underestimate how much work that entails. We have 15 race cars at the APR shop that were built for Kenny Wallace that now need to be tailored to Bobby Hamilton. Once we find out how much we need to fix, we can figure out our off-season game plan."

The Square D Racing Team knows it has a lot of homework to do this winter. The task of preparing for next year won't be easy. But while Hamilton has been a member of the APR family for just a short period of time, from what he has seen so far, he feels it will be a smooth transition.

"I don't know of any reason why we can't race competitively from day one," said Hamilton, as he spoke about the upcoming season with APR. "I'm very impressed with the way Andy runs his operation. I new Jimmy before he was a crew chief. Until recently he was just a friend of mine, but after seeing him run this team, I'm really impressed by his knowledge and leadership skills. We saw how well the Square D Chevy ran at Talladega (Ala.) this season, so I don't see why we can't continue that performance in Daytona. I've also had strong performances at Rockingham (N.C.), so I look forward to great start to the 2001 season."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Kenny Wallace , Andy Petree