Dover Bobby Hamilton, Kodak Team Preview

Hamilton misses extra 100 miles of competition at Dover Downs After 600 miles at Charlotte, most NASCAR Winston Cup drivers dreaded another marathon the next week at Dover Downs International Speedway. Kodak MAX Film driver Bobby...

Hamilton misses extra 100 miles of competition at Dover Downs

After 600 miles at Charlotte, most NASCAR Winston Cup drivers dreaded another marathon the next week at Dover Downs International Speedway. Kodak MAX Film driver Bobby Hamilton wasn't a part of that group because he really enjoyed a 500-mile event at The Monster Mile. Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400 will of course be 100 miles shorter, 100 fewer laps around the white concrete oval. Hamilton isn't complaining too much, but 500 laps at Dover suited him just fine. "I wish it was still 500 miles," Hamilton said. "I think it gets boring to the race fans and so many people are a lap down at the end of 500 miles. I can remember the time when you could be five laps down and still finish seventh or eighth. "Them days are about gone, and that just contributes to having a 400-mile race. I've always been pretty good at being consistent there, and it always paid off the longer the race." Hamilton, in his second season behind the wheel of the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo, will have plenty of time to shine during the 400-lap event. The 13th race of the 34-event season gets under way at 12:30 p.m. with TNN providing live TV coverage. With finishes of fourth and 13th in the past two events at Richmond and Charlotte, respectively, Hamilton has climbed five positions in the Winston Cup standings. He's currently 183 points out of the No. 10 position, and that's where he finished the 1998 campaign in the Morgan-McClure Motorsports Monte Carlo. "We've had a couple of pretty good runs, and we need to keep that consistency going," Hamilton said. "This team is capable of running in the top 10 every week, and we've got some really good tracks coming up. If we can climb back into the top 10 by the end of June, then we can concentrate on the second half of the season, try to win some races and work our way toward the top five." It'll take a little luck and lots of hard work, but Hamilton and company plan to keep their streak of consistent runs going on Sunday at Dover Downs. Hamilton finished 17th and 10th in the two races at Dover Downs in 1998 but had to use provisional starting spots in both events. He doesn't plan to start that far back this time around. "It's probably one of my best race tracks, but we qualify so bad there and it's hard to pass," Hamilton said. "I think the things we learned at Bristol for qualifying will help us there. We had a shot at winning at Dover a couple of times when I drove the 43 car. I think we finished second there and led a bunch of laps. We started 36th and was leading on the 50th lap. "It's got the same look as Bristol, but I don't think it's like Bristol. We're going to take a car that we tested at Bristol. The only reason we carried it to Bristol and tested is because we ran it at Dover one time last year and it ran real good in the race, but we didn't qualify good with it. "It's one of those tracks where you can abuse your tires if you run too hard. There's a sweet line there, and if you hit that, you can run a lot of consistent laps. "It has been a one-groove track in the past, but I think with these big spoilers they'll get two-wide again. I'm not counting on it, but I think the groove will move up some. "You have to be good up off the corner to pass. That's where it's all at. If you get a nose up under a man off the corner, he's not going to go in there with you." Only one of two white concrete tracks on the circuit, the Monster Mile, with 24-degree banked turns, provides quite a challenge for man and machine. "We're going pretty fast there, but we go pretty fast everywhere these days," Hamilton said. "The concrete isn't really a problem. Most anybody on a bright, sunny day wears a tinted shield anyhow. It covers it. The concrete is somewhat brighter, you can tell, but people put a little tape on the windshield to keep the sun off of 'em and the dark goggles, too, and that takes care of it." Team owner Larry McClure, like most of the drivers, prefers the new 400-mile distance at Dover. "I love the Monster Mile," McClure said. "It's an exciting race now that they've shortened it. It makes for a much more pleasant race. Bobby liked it at 500 miles, but he's one of the few. "We need to qualify better, and we've got better motors than we've ever had to qualify with. We're going to get after them. Bobby can be aggressive with the car up there. He gets through the corners there better than any place he goes. We're going to give him the power to shoot him down the straightaways and hopefully we'll have another good run."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton