Sell-out crowds. Ecstatic fans. Lots of race traffic. That's how a lot of people in the racing industry think of the biannual journey to the high banks of the Michigan International Speedway (MIS, Brooklyn, Mich.). Kevin Hamlin and crew of the...
Sell-out crowds. Ecstatic fans. Lots of race traffic. That's how a lot of people in the racing industry think of the biannual journey to the high banks of the Michigan International Speedway (MIS, Brooklyn, Mich.). Kevin Hamlin and crew of the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo equate this pit stop on the NASCAR tour as a trip home.
A native of Kalamazoo, Mich., crew chief Kevin Hamlin stretched his racing roots in the primarily Midwestern series of the American Speed Association (ASA). The ASA has served as a breeding ground for countless talents in NASCAR's Busch and Winston Cup Series, both behind-the-scenes and in racing's fore front- including ASA Champions Johnny Benson and Tony Raines. Hamlin has ownership of two ASA Championships as crew chief for Butch Miller's car in the 1980's.
Though a homecoming in the true sense of the word for Hamlin, in a certain respect, traveling to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway offers a homecoming for every member of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. General Motors is playing host to the team this Thursday as they visit GM headquarters (Grand Blanc, Mich.) and a GM Goodwrench Service Parts Operation (GMSPO) facility (Flint, Mich.).
"It's nice to go somewhere that you know no-matter-what you've got thousands of people behind you," commented Hamlin. "I've got my family too, so I still have more than the rest of the team. But seriously- it is a homecoming for all of us. Making this trip is going to be a cool deal. We'll get to see where all of our sponsor money comes from and be reminded how much the team means to the GMSPO employees. What the people do that work up there is just as every bit as important as what we do and they rarely get any of the recognition. It's a good thing that we get to see their lives, it makes us more appreciative of them."
When asked about racing in his own back yard, Hamlin cited, "It's special, but it doesn't make me nervous. I've been coming back here racing since 1992. The nervousness has plain worn off. It's like leaving home and returning for holidays the fourth time around- you're excited but not to the point where you have butterflies in your stomach getting off at the airport gate."
Driver Kevin Harvick observed, "There are just certain tracks you feel most comfortable at. For some guys it's because they grew up racing there and for others it's just because they like the place. For RCR, having both ACDelco and GM Goodwrench as sponsors and MIS being so close to GM, we just feel like we have a lot of support and a lot of people rooting for us."