Hamilton Charlotte preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 23, 2001) - Bobby Hamilton has a birthday celebration this weekend in Charlotte at the Coca-Cola 600 event. By the time the lights flicker on Sunday night during the 400 laps, Hamilton will have blown out the candles on his...

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 23, 2001) - Bobby Hamilton has a birthday celebration this weekend in Charlotte at the Coca-Cola 600 event. By the time the lights flicker on Sunday night during the 400 laps, Hamilton will have blown out the candles on his cake and made a wish to conquer the 1.5-mile oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway - a goal that Hamilton set at the beginning of the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season.

Hamilton, who's taking the same No. 55 Chevrolet that sported the special night race lightning bolt paint scheme in last weekend's The Winston, will be competing against his son who is filling in for Andy Petree Racing (APR) teammate Joe Nemechek due to an injury in testing.

"Just because it's my birthday and I'm racing against my son doesn't make this weekend any different. We've competed before and things went fine, so I'm expecting this weekend will be the same," said Hamilton who turns 44 on Tuesday. "I know we can work together for the race just like Joe and I do normally. Joe and I work really well together and compare notes about our cars often so I expect that Bobby, Jr. and I will do the same.

"At the beginning of the season, I said that I wanted to add a win in Charlotte to my plate," continued Hamilton. "I'm not sure if it is all the media hype or just the prestige of that track. It's been one of my goals since the beginning of this season, actually other seasons as well. I've had some good runs there and after the race last weekend, I think we're going to have a pretty good horse on long runs for this event. We got a good taste of victory earlier this year (Talladega, Ala.) and I know this team can do it again. It's just a matter of time. That would be the ultimate birthday present."

Claiming the trophy in victory lane, the perfect gift, will take strategy from crew chief Jimmy Elledge.

"The Coca-Cola 600 is a big race. It's an endurance race obviously because of the length," said Elledge. "It can be a tough race because you start in the daytime and finish in the nighttime. You've got to have your setup in the middle of the road so that you can be a strong competitor that night. But your setup can't be so bad during the day that you get run over from behind. That's a moody old track, but still one that we'd like to tame as a team.

"I've been a part of a team that has won the Coca-Cola 600 twice and that was a lot of fun. I'd like to do it again. That would make my birthday shopping for Bobby's present pretty easy -a trophy in Victory lane - now there is a numbered edition."

The 400-lap Coca-Cola 600 will air live on FOX Sunday, May 27th at 5:45 p.m. EST.

-MDG

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Joe Nemechek