Charlotte: Bobby Hamilton preview

Hamilton discusses generation gap. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 22, 2002) -- Is NASCAR being taken over by the young gun drivers? Well 44-year-old Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton begs to differ. The veteran, who has four Winston Cup victories...

Hamilton discusses generation gap.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 22, 2002) -- Is NASCAR being taken over by the young gun drivers? Well 44-year-old Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton begs to differ. The veteran, who has four Winston Cup victories under his belt, still races every weekend with hopes of another win. Hamilton doesn't run on a treadmill every day to keep up with the young blood that is flowing through the garage area, but he still keeps up. Hamilton has time to operate three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams, support his son's blossoming Busch Series career and race in 38 races in the Winston Cup Series. On top of all this, Hamilton still finds time to fulfill his sponsor commitments and is known to take the wheel in all three of NASCAR's prominent series just for fun.

This weekend's Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 gives Hamilton yet another chance to show how well he adapts to situations on the fly. After wrecking two cars in the Winston, Hamilton and Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge had to come up with a new plan, and quickly. This resourceful crew opted to take part-time teammate Mike Wallace's Chevy that he raced in The Winston. Hamilton talks about his theory on the generation battle, taking the Chevy to the 1.5-mile oval and how he can make it work to accomplish one of his long term goals in Winston Cup Racing -- to win in Charlotte.

It seems that NASCAR's young guns are continuing to run up front and win races. Why do you think the sport is moving to the younger look?

"This question has been asked a lot lately, and I have something to say about it. Everyone has their own theory and that is just what it is -- a theory. The media are starting to ask all these questions about older drivers and how they can't keep up with the younger generation. I think it all stems from losing Dale Earnhardt. Our sport not only lost the best race car driver, but we also lost a person who was from the old school generation that kicked everyone's butt week in and week out. You didn't see Dale Earnhardt out there on a treadmill running six miles every day to keep up. When he had spare time he was either hunting or fishing.

"Then the day came when we started racing without him and people said that we couldn't keep up with the younger drivers. Well the way I have it figured is that Jeff Gordon is probably the best guy out there now and Tony Stewart is not far behind him. You don't see Tony out there running on a treadmill to keep up with the younger generation do you? He comes in every week and races his way up front -- he's just that good. He's even won two races so far this year. So for someone to say that the younger generation is kicking all of us older guys out of there, then they're sadly mistaken. I mean look at who the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader is -- Sterling Marlin. And the Daytona 500 winner was Ward Burton.

How will this car help your chances of winning this weekend?

"We wanted to take this car last weekend, but it wasn't going to be ready in time. The guys built it but it wasn't ready by the time we tested in Charlotte. And we still wanted another session with it in the wind tunnel. So they got it ready, took it to the wind tunnel, and we chose cars for The Winston that we had a previous history racing with.

"It worked out better for us actually. We have a brand new car built especially for Charlotte that tested well in the wind tunnel. Mike (Wallace) raced it last weekend and the team learned how it would react in race traffic and to the track. So now all we have to do is get it set up for me. We're going back to Charlotte ahead of the game. We'll pick up right where we left off last weekend."

-ser-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Sterling Marlin , Mike Wallace