Bristol: Bobby Hamilton preview

Schneider Electric Racing New pit road rules, spotter chat and Hamilton on Bristol CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 19, 2002) -- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway's steep banked, half-mile oval is known to test race cars. But it's not a test on engines or...

Schneider Electric Racing
New pit road rules, spotter chat and Hamilton on Bristol

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 19, 2002) -- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway's steep banked, half-mile oval is known to test race cars. But it's not a test on engines or even a test for tires. It's a test to see if the driver handling a 3,400-lb. machine can withstand the pressure of door-to-door racing for 500 laps on 36-degree banks. It takes endurance and patience to keep your cool, but Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton remains dependable. His record of four top-10 finishes in Bristol, one from spring of last year, gives the No. 55 Chevy an advantage for the action-packed race.

How can a team finish an event like Bristol?

You have to bob and weave through the field constantly there. It's a continuous struggle the whole race. You have to watch what the car in front of you is doing, but keep an eye on the cars behind you. Getting around there is so fast and in a second you can get in trouble with a pile-up that happened in front of you. You have to stay on your toes the whole time.

But that's one of the things that makes Bristol so fun. We get to go back to the roots of the sport. Racing each other door-to-door, beating and banging, and pushing for that next position. The fans get one of the best races there and we get a chance to show our ability as well.

At Bristol Hamilton says he depends a lot on his spotter for an extra set of eyes. Spotter Bart Creasman explains how he helps Hamilton make it through a race on the half-mile oval.

I'm always looking in front of him. If he's coming off turn one, I'm already looking at turn two or the back straightaway. Once he enters into turn three and I see he can make it through, I turn my head to turn four and the frontstretch. I'm constantly turning my head around that racetrack. Hamilton does a good job knowing what's going on around him, but I help him get through the wrecks.

Crew Chief Charley Pressley says that Bristol is a track where a lot depends on luck.

In Bristol it takes a lot of luck to go along with skill. Drivers have to learn how to anticipate what's going on around them, but they also have to learn how to get through some multi-car pile-ups. I've been there with Bobby before and left there without a single scratch on the car. He's good about getting around the traffic. But I'm still scratching my head on how he did that.

This weekend NASCAR mandated a new rule for pit road under caution. All cars will enter pit road in turn two regardless of the location of their pit stall. Once the stop is complete, teams will exit from turn one. Is this one more way for NASCAR to help even the score in Bristol?

It's not really going to make a big difference in pit stops. But it will take away the advantage on pit road that teams seem to get from the pace car's speed. Regardless, we're still going to focus on getting this Schneider Electric Chevy qualified up front. In Bristol it's hard to get up there if you don't start there.

- www.schneiderelectricracing.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton