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Passing no problem for Hamilton in No. 4 Kodak Chevy at Bristol Bobby Hamilton says he's used to passing plenty of cars at Bristol Motor Speedway. He'd just as soon not pass any on Sunday in the Food City 500 NASCAR Winston...

Passing no problem for Hamilton in No. 4 Kodak Chevy at Bristol

Bobby Hamilton says he's used to passing plenty of cars at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He'd just as soon not pass any on Sunday in the Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at the high-banked .533-mile short track located just a few miles from the Morgan-McClure Motorsports facility in Abingdon, Va.

"I never seem to qualify well at Bristol, but I always seem to race well," Hamilton said. "I probably pass more cars than anybody there because I usually start so far back.

"You really need to qualify up front and get a pit on the frontstretch. I've pitted on the backstretch and got a bunch of top 10s, but that's about all you can get. You want to qualify up front and stay up front. That way you don't have to worry about passing anybody except lapped cars."

Hamilton qualified 40th for last year's Food City 500 and finished 18th in the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He started 33rd and finished 11th in August under the lights at Bristol. In 16 starts at the circuit's fastest half-mile track, Hamilton has one top five and three top 10s.

The No. 4 Morgan-McClure team tested two days at Bristol last week. Hamilton was still battling a case of the flu that plagued him at Texas, but the 41-year-old Tennessee native said the test went well.

"We just tested basic stuff, but we were pretty good when we unloaded and we got better," Hamilton said. "We're going to race one of the oldest cars we've got, but it's real fast.

"I'm feeling better now, but it was hard getting rid of that cough. After the first day of testing last week, I felt almost 100 percent, and I'll be 100 percent by race day. You'd better be 100 percent at Bristol because it really takes a toll."

With speeds in excess of 124 mph and the 36-degree banking in the turns, Bristol provides an ultimate challenge for man and machine. Qualifying for one of the frontstretch pits is always important, and staying on the lead lap can be tricky if your car isn't handling right.

"The concrete seems to be the same at Bristol every time we go back, so I really like that," Hamilton said. "When it used to be asphalt and they'd put a seal on it, our setups would usually vary. It seems like we use just about the same setup now every time we go back.

"The car really drives good, but it's so tight there that a tenth and a half per lap can really make a difference. The Morgan-McClure team has won poles and races there, and I know we're going to have a good car. It's Morgan-McClure's home track, and you always want to do well when you're racing in your backyard.

"Heck, you want to do well if you're racing in anybody's backyard, but it's always nice to shine for the folks at home. We're due a good race and a good finish so we can move up in the points."

Hamilton is currently 14th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. With back-to-back short track races coming up, he'd really like to move into the top 10 by the time the team heads to Talladega in two weeks.

"I know we can do well at Bristol, and we know we're going to be one of the favorites at Martinsville. We feel like we can be competitive anywhere we go these days. The pit crew has been working hard to get better, and we're getting good cars every week. With a break or two along the way, we should be in real good shape."

A strong qualifying run on Friday will get the weekend started right for the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Racing Team. Like Hamilton, team owner Larry McClure realizes it's easier to stay up front if you start there.

"If you look at the cars that finish in the top 10 at Bristol, most of them start somewhere in the top 10," McClure said. "That's not always the case, but it happens a lot. You can really help yourself if you qualify up front.

"Bristol is a really tough track, and you need all the help you can get there. We had a real good test at Bristol, and I can't wait to get going on Sunday. I think we're going to have a car worth watching. Hopefully we can make it boring, but you don't see too many boring races at Bristol."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton