CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 20, 2002) -- Mutual confidence between a driver and team can make a good performance even better. But for some tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, it takes so much more. This weekend's Sharpie 500 night race...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 20, 2002) -- Mutual confidence between a driver and team can make a good performance even better. But for some tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, it takes so much more. This weekend's Sharpie 500 night race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is one of those exceptions. It takes patience, guts and experience to hang on to the steep-banked half-mile oval. But at the same time, it can also be a driver's favorite place to race. And it just so happens that it is Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton's pick. The 45-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native tells us he likes to take it back to the old school with action-packed racing on a Saturday night.
What car are you taking to Bristol this year?
"We are taking the same car the Joe Nemechek (Hamilton's 2001 teammate) won the race in Rockingham (N.C.) with. We've raced it a couple of times already this year -- like Rockingham (ninth) and Darlington (13th). I love this car and think it will be a great answer for us there. The bottom under it is raised up a little to keep it from hitting the ground, and on concrete race tracks that is important. It makes it smoother as we drive around the track."
What is the biggest thing that you change on the race car to make it smoother in Bristol?
"Shocks are the biggest thing that helps us in Bristol. They have to set them up for all the concrete patches. We go through shocks in practice to see which one helps smooth the transition over the concrete slabs. It's tricky, but Roger (Parkinson, shock specialist), is great at making shocks that help fix what I am talking about over the radio. The other thing that we change is springs. You try to keep the car off the race track going into the corners, but you go so fast into the corners that it makes it hard to not coil bind the springs.
"Bristol is a hard combination to set up on the car, but Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) does really well at short tracks. We love racing there. It's a different atmosphere. That place is not like any other race track we race at -- it's short, steep banked and fast. Why do people not build more tracks like Bristol?"
It's pretty important to be around at the end of the race at short tracks. Are you pretty confident that you can stay out of trouble to do that?
"Yes, I think we can be around at the end. Bristol is one of those places that we beat on each other the whole 500 laps. It's like every lap is the last time we are going to make it around. That place makes everyone earn their money. Tempers flare because unlike other places that we go to during the season, we actually hit doors or rub fenders almost every time we pass. I'm pretty good at being around at the end there, but you just never know what might happen in front of you that might gulp you up quick. You can be in turn one and a wreck happen in turn three and in the matter of eight seconds you are in the middle of it. You have to stay on your toes."