Q&A's with Bobby Hamilton, No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 2nd) who won the Talladega 500 in the spring; and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 19th). Note: This marks the 13th time that Kevin ...
Q&A's with Bobby Hamilton, No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 2nd) who won the Talladega 500 in the spring; and Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 19th). Note: This marks the 13th time that Kevin Harvick has been the highest qualifying Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate; he was the highest qualifying rookie at Talladega in April; and most recently, the highest qualifying rookie at the Coca Cola 600.
Tell us about your run today
Kevin Harvick: "I didn't have anything to do with anything today. I was basically just a passenger. The guys did a great job. We just slowed down a little bit in qualifying. It doesn't really matter where you start. You can pretty much come from anywhere with the aerodynamic package. It's been a good day for us. I didn't have to do much."
Bobby Hamilton: "We was happy with that. We didn't think we'd run that quick. To end up 2nd is pretty neat. You don't do a lot here as a driver. It's all about the bodies on the car and all the work in the engine shop. I'm pretty happy that we qualified second because I like watching the Budweiser Shootout. I'm telling you, if we get the pole it's for the guys because I never want to be in the Budweiser Shootout. But if we would have got it, I would have been happy for the guys."
How much effort does the driver have to put in during a qualifying run?
Bobby Hamilton: "You'd be very surprised - especially with the aero rules right now. If I told you to run around the yellow line all around this racetrack. If you had nerve enough to hold it wide open around the yellow line, you'd run the same speed I did. They drive that good with the drag package that's on them. In the race, it's a different story. All the drivers have to earn their pay and be real disciplined and stay out of trouble and dodge the big one (wreck) if there is one. We're hoping that with the way the cars drive now, that we can have a caution-free event again."
Comment on the saga between Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart in the garage area?
Kevin Harvick: "Well, I think it's something that NASCAR should have done a long time ago but they wanted to make sure they were doing was right. I think they've done a good job in that. One thing I have learned this year is you pick and choose to fight your battles. And I don't think that was one battle that needed to be fought. I told him I'd practice his car while he was getting reprimanded, but they didn't think I'd fit in the seat."
Why don't you enjoy the Budweiser Shootout?
Bobby Hamilton: "It ain't that I don't enjoy it - I want to watch it. Most of the time, it's a balls-out race and you usually tear up something and it's just a heck of a race to watch. I've run the Budweiser Shootout three or four times and I've made a hell of a lot more money betting on it than I have racing in it."
Do you guys have things patched up since Martinsville?
Bobby Hamilton: "No."
Is qualifying on Friday a waste of time?
Bobby Hamilton: "I think it's a show for the fans. We had a big turnout today and that's what we're here for. Forty-three of us would be happy starting by points at a lot of places - especially places like this. Maybe there might be a handful of guys who have a good qualifying package. It wouldn't make any difference to me because you can bet your sweet butt on one thing: When they drop that green flag, if I can't lead a lap quick, I'm going to 43rd and I'm going to be there until there's 30 laps to go. We're going to be running over each other trying to get to the back more than trying to get to the front. That's just the nature of this race. But in doing that, it's made for a good race. The fans can't tell that we're racing going backwards, they just think we're going racing."
Kevin Harvick: "If you get in the middle of a three-wide pack, I think it's a lot more comfortable to be two-wide in the rear. If you're in the middle of a three-wide group ten cars back, where do you go when they wreck? You go into it. You don't have any escape. I think if we practice race trim on Saturday and qualify and then impound them, that's probably just as good as wasting a motor and working on deck lids and spoilers and everything else."
Bobby Hamilton: "Sort of like a one-day show for the Craftsman Trucks or the Busch cars when they impound them after qualifying and line them up for the race."
What do you think about the new safety rule regarding the NASCAR mandate of head & neck restraint devices?
Bobby Hamilton: "I'm tired of seeing drivers get hurt real bad in what we do because we don't have that kind of racing. I think we have very safe racecars. It's just the speeds are up and whatever the deal is with the rigidity. The quicker they get that figured out, the safer it's going to be. But until they do, I think what they've done is what we needed."
What do you think about having medical staffs located in regions to be on hand?
Kevin Harvick: "I think that's a good idea. I think you've seen in CART with the wreck that they just had recently. That guy (Alex Zanardi) would have wound up dead if they wouldn't have had somebody there that knew what was going on. I think it's a great idea and all this stuff takes time to put in place. For the most part, I think they're doing things as fast as they can do them. Everything has obviously changed a lot since Daytona. If you make sure you do it right, it will be beneficial to everyone."
On being at the back of the pack
Bobby Hamilton: "The reason I like the rules like they are is because you can afford to go to the back. Four years ago, you was done if you lifted the gas. That's why they put a line around this place. We was drafting in the grass. They pulled that away from us and narrowed the racetrack. We got four wide instead of five. My theory is that I feel comfortable that if somebody starts to get a run on my, I can shuffle back. I have enough power, I can be back up there in two laps if I want to - in one lap if I want to. They gave the Fords a concession and they gave the Dodges a concession to make them handle better in race trim. I've seen them sideways. I feel a lot more comfortable that we can take our time. If we do get shuffled back, we have enough time to get back up there.
Kevin Harvick: "If someone else has a better idea that will work for all the manufacturers, they should speak up. I can't make myself go to the back. I won't be one of them."
Bobby Hamilton: "You will be in the back, you just won't go there on your own."
Kevin Harvick: "I won't go back there on my own. I'll be there at one point or another, but I won't choose to stay back there."
Bobby Hamilton: "What I mean is any of those 43 cars will be back there at one time or another. That's the nature of the race."