Chevrolet Racing Martinsville Saturday notes

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Hamilton won at Martinsville Speedway on April 19, 1998 in only his eighth start with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team. It's been 86 races since Hamilton and the No. 4...

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Hamilton won at Martinsville Speedway on April 19, 1998 in only his eighth start with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team. It's been 86 races since Hamilton and the No. 4 Monte Carlo won a race. Two weeks ago at New Hampshire, Hamilton and car owner Larry McClure announced they would split company at the end of the season. With only one top-10 finish this season, Hamilton has won on three of the seven tracks remaining on the 2000 schedule and says he'd like to go out on a winning note in the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo. He qualified seventh for Sunday's race. That's his best starting spot of the season. The 43-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native talks about Sunday's race and the remainder of the season. "The car is good. It's a little tight and we're concerned about the tightness. We know this place gets real slick during the course of the race. You've got a fine line of looseness here. You've got to be somewhat loose, but you've got to get off the corners. You've got to be almost perfect to get around here. When you've got a shady morning like this and cool and you don't know what tomorrow holds, you're hoping the sun will come out this afternoon and you'll have two scenarios to set up for. That's what we're up against right now. "We have a different chassis than we've ever run here right now. It's completely 180 degrees different. Everybody else is winning with them. You know how this sport is, monkey see, monkey do. You could put casters on top of the 20 car and let him run around there last week and win and everybody would have casters on their cars this week. We went to test at Greenville-Pickens and found this car was quicker than the cars we usually run here, but we've seen a trend of that. The 43 car got away from that kind of stuff. I think Petree still runs it, and the 8 car and 1 car has it, but it's dwindling down. The kind of cars we used to run here have won 98 percent of the races here, but they haven't won the last two. "I think Tony Stewart does a good job here. He does what he needs to do. He's not hard on brakes. He rolls. He stays up front and keeps clean air on the car. That's what it's all about here. I've only won one race here. I'm not the man here. You get labeled in this sport. This is one of my best race tracks and I have no idea why except I'm not hard on brakes. I think that's the key. "I'd like to win on one of those three tracks left where I've already won, if not all three of them. I don't know if I can or not, but we're damn sure going to try. Every time people make a change, they say, 'he's given up' or 'he doesn't care anymore.' I'm not that way. I'd like to duplicate the situation I had with Richard Petty. We made the announcement at Darlington that I was going to Morgan-McClure and then we won at Rockingham. It gives you a little more self respect and the car owners remember stuff like that. "We started this race here 13th last year and a plug wire fell off. We dropped to 43rd and was taking the lead when a caution came out. We had a bad pit stop and Schrader wrecked us. The further up you start, the more comfort level is there. You might miss some of the beating and banging, but some of those people in front of us are the beaters and bangers, so you never know what's going to happen up there, either. "Stewart and Rusty will be good Sunday. So will the 3, 55, 99. The 40 looks good out there, too. He'll be my wild card. We're just going to try to take care of the brakes, and maybe we can be there, too. You're not going to

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) wear out the brakes, but the more you use them the worse the car handles. You just don't use the brakes. You don't put your foot on 'em. You just don't run as hard down the straightaways."

LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) "All the teams are better. They've changed tires two or three times (since Morgan-McClure's victory here in '98) and people have changed cars and chassis. We had a little edge then. I think Bobby was on the top of his game then. He was a new driver with our team and everything was real positive. People were real pumped up. Since we announced this change, I think it's been a relief to him and us, too. We've got some chances to win some races here, and I think we'll be plenty good enough to win this race. "This is one of Bobby's better tracks, and we should have a real good chance here. You get frustrated when you know you've got a good car and a good driver but you're not winning. You just have to keep working and work through it. We've had things happen to us this year that ordinarily have never happened. Hopefully, we've got all that behind us. We're focused. Everybody is working hard, and everybody is pumped up. That's what you've got to have. You've got to have teamwork and have people pulling for each other. Then you can get it done. "If Bobby's got the confidence that he can beat these guys, then we can beat 'em. That's the way I feel. I know he's got confidence, but he's got to know he's got a good enough horse under him to beat these guys. If he can do that, I think we've got a good chance. "Bobby's got something to prove, and we've got something to prove, too. We need to run good this last leg of the season. This is a good car and it's won a lot of races. The team has won a lot of races. I hope people know I'm real serious about what we do. We're as serious as the Hendrick or Childress or Yates organizations or Roush or whoever. This is a good race team. We've stumbled, but we haven't fallen. We're getting back up. We can win a lot of races. We're looking forward to five more years with the Eastman Kodak Company, and we owe them a turnaround as well as ourselves. "We've probably had 20 or 25 people calling wanting to drive the car. There's three or four people who could do us a good job. There's always gray areas. It's a little bit of a calculated guess on how a mix will work. When I hired a couple of my previous drivers, they had never won. We got them in the car and they started winning races. I've got to replace my driver with a fast driver. Bobby is a quality driver, and I've got to get a quality driver with the desire to win. I want him to feel like he's King Kong. "These guys who are capable of winning are pretty cocky people. You've got to expect a guy to be frustrated when he doesn't win. That's what I want. I want somebody that's mad if they don't win every race. I'm mad. I've got to find me a diamond in the rough probably. It'd be tough to take someone from another series. We've looked at a couple, but I think we can get somebody with leadership and bring them on pretty quickly. It's a pretty tough deal when you're back in the points like we are. You can't fall back on the points. You've got to qualify to make the race, and that's the way it should be. There was a time when I thought the team was down a little bit or I thought Bobby was off his game a little bit. I guess an accumulation of those things puts you in that situation, but we're on the way back."

LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) "When the new driver comes to this race team, he's got to realize he's just another member of the team. He's going to be treated like everybody else. I've got a lot of experienced people around me, and I'll get input from them. If a guy gives you a good interview and impresses you with his desire, that means a lot. All these guys can drive a race car. Maybe you'll get lucky and find a guy who can do it who hasn't had the right opportunity, or it would be great to get someone who has done it and is doing it. You might be surprised with who we pick. We'd like to put it to bed in the next couple of weeks and maybe go test some with the new driver before this season is over so we don't start cold turkey. When you get to the race track, you've got to be prepared. "I think he (crew chief Danny Gill) wants to stay here. His desire is to be a crew chief. He's found out it's not a piece of cake over here. He's found out there's a lot of competition and a lot of good people. He's a bright young man and we want to keep him. I've given him a few races to make up his mind and make sure he wants to stay over here. I think he does. I know he wants to win. It's bad when you come from a division (truck series) where you're used to winning and then come over here and you're treated like everybody else when you're not winning. He might be one of those diamonds in the rough. He's shown a lot of ability and we like what we see. "We'll look at the second car, but right now it's on the back burner. We need to get this put to bed. I think it cost us in performance a little bit (one-car team). Any time you've got two drivers you've got more to draw from. One guy may say something works, and another guy may say it doesn't work. You have a little more to base your decision on. When it comes to race day, I don't think anybody's got a teammate out here. We can win with a one-car team. Even at Daytona and Talladega, they might help each other out a little bit in the race, but they'll knock each other out of the way to take a spot. It's the information you lose when you don't have a teammate. "It's the same old Martinsville. The walls are a little higher and the pit road is a little longer, but you still spin your tires the same way. It's a rock'em sock'em place, and there'll be plenty of that going on before the race ends Sunday. "We had a strong car at Rockingham this year, but there's no reason you can't have a strong car every weekend like the one we won with here in '98. If you can do it one weekend, you can do it every weekend. We're capable. If we're on top of our game and you've got a guy who beats his chest and acts like King Kong, then you can win. That's the kind of guy you've got to have. I'll guarantee you some of those guys are in here. Are they available? They just might be. Maybe that's what we've lost, but we've got to go on now."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Richard Petty