Bobby Hamilton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team unofficially broke the track record during a two-day test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The test, which took place on Monday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 25, was the second for...
Bobby Hamilton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team unofficially broke the track record during a two-day test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The test, which took place on Monday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 25, was the second for the Kodak MAX Film team. Hamilton turned in a fast lap of 49.62 seconds (181.37 mph), which is the fastest speed clocked in a NASCAR Winston Cup car at the famed Brickyard. The NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400 qualifying record is held by Jeff Gordon with a lap of 50.10 seconds (179.612 mph). The combination of Hamilton and Morgan-McClure Motorsports started the 1999 Brickyard 400 in 37th position and finished 38th. In 1998, their first year together, they began the race in 24th and finished 20th. Both years the team was 14th in Winston Cup point standings at the time of the historic race.
Larry McClure, team owner, quotes on test session and team changes "I think we've showed at times this season that we can run good and be competitive. Somehow our finishes have not reflected the same. So we've made these changes. The team had methodically performed. Now the new crew chief, Danny Gill, has brought some youth and much enthusiasm to our team. "We had a flawless test session at Indy. I couldn't be more pleased with it. Hamilton and Gill and our engineering staff are working well together. Sometimes Hamilton and Gill don't always see eye to eye on matters, but I really think that is good. It brings both of them up to the plate with more of a challenge. We went to Indy a few weeks ago to test. We did not turn out good times, but we gained knowledge. Then we went to the wind tunnel. We took all of our aerodynamic data and instrumentation off of the car and added it all together, along with some help from Chevrolet. We went back and picked up one and a half seconds with a car that meets NASCAR guidelines. "Qualifying is very important at Indianapolis. If the race is started with good track position, then you can finish good. I feel confident that we can get a decent spot. This is a brand new car. It was built and designed by Morgan-McClure Motorsports. "We have been faced with a long, hard road this season. Being a single car team this day and time can make it that much tougher.We don't have the information and data available like multi-car teams have. Nor do we have the economic advantage they do. So we have to work hard and smart to keep up. "I realize this is crunch time for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. We're not happy with where we are in points right now. We certainly don't like taking provisionals. It's not our cup of tea. We used some research and development stuff at Pocono. I feel we were competitive, but then the motor broke. The r&d stuff bit us in the butt. "I'm looking forward to unloading at Indy next week. I'm not sure if we will run the same speed again, but I know we'll be good. Bobby Hamilton showed us he still likes to go fast and is capable of it. He got pretty excited, even with the first lap. We're ready to go back and see what we can do."
Bobby Hamilton, driver, quotes on Indy test and team changes "I was concerned about even making the race. Tony Glover and I were talking and when you get that fast, even when we were running a 50 flat, that puts you in a category that you know yo're going to be OK. When Joe Nemechek ran his quick lap, I was there. It was 9 o'clock in the morning and the track temperature was 72 degrees. When Rusty ran his quick lap, it was 6 o'clock at night and the track temperature was 81 degrees. We went out Tuesday morning on old tires and it was 78 degrees. It was the same time Nemechek ran his lap and we ran a 49.66 "We waited until the track temperature got to 92 degrees and then we ran a 49.62. Now if the track gets hotter, its going to get hotter for everybody, but we feel good about the way we got our speed. It's a little different from the way they got their speed. If it gets hot and slippery like it did when it got 130 degrees up there on track temperature, couldn't anybody get a grip on the race track. We feel our way is going to be a lot better than the way some of them has done it. "We got a lot of help from Chevrolet carrying the car to the wind tunnel. We had an engineer there with us at Indy the last two days, and it was a big jump. It's going to help us a lot in the near future. The way we've got it figured, it's going to take a 50.30 to make the race. I think the pole, depending on the weather, if it's sunny, the pole might be a 49.80. It slows down. Every 15 or 20 degrees is a tenth as far as track temperatures go. Then I think once you get up over 120 degrees, you might see 15 hundredths every 10 degrees or so. We practice at 10 and qualify at 1, so the track will really start taking a beating at 2. An early draw is going to be better. "Look at where we are in points and the way we've been qualifying. We wouldn't have made the race. We felt like we needed to go back and hit it hard. We had a good enough test that we were able to knock off at 10 o'clock the second day and swap the car over and make race runs all day. We feel good about the whole thing. The first test was terrible. We left there and our fastest lap was a 51.40. Nemechek ran a 49.66, so that would tell you that you need to go back. We hadn't planned to go back, but once we saw what we learned in the wind tunnel we had one test left and we said we pretty much run decent everywhere else we've got left to go. "Indy is a big deal for race teams and sponsors. We needed to hit it. That's our last test. A lot of teams are out of tests this time of year. There's nowhere else we're bad. We've just been hurting ourselves all year. "We're so far down in the points. We're not going to worry about points any more this season. That's why we worked so hard on this race run stuff. Like Pocono, I was a good seventh or eighth-place car, and I just rode all day trying to take care of the motor and it still didn't help. The guys that finished in the top 10, we had passed all day when we got ready to. There's a fine line there. "Danny (new crew chief Gill) has helped the team with organization. Getting the people lined up in the right place and getting a game plan and sticking by it has not been done there lately. "There's not a lot of magic there. There's just one person who's pulled everybody together. They feed off him. He's the person making decisions, and they're good decisions right now. It's early. But everybody knows if you run fast at Indy, you actually run fast."
Danny Gill, crew chief, quotes on Indy test "The test was a real confidence booster for the entire team. It really was one for me. If someone had told me as early as Monday morning of the test that we would go back to Indy and run a 49 anything, I would've never believed them. We knew after the first test that we needed to go back. We were worried about getting a spot there with so many entries. Now we have a baseline to go by when we unload there. "Everything on the car is by the rules. That is what makes me feel good. It's not too low or light. Sometimes during tests, you can get off on those things. The times might not reflect that when you go back. We worked hard. We logged data and took information from the wind tunnel. We made changes on the car before we took it back for the test, based on that data. "Hamilton was comfortable in the car. And he was confident with it as well. That is important to me. I want him to feel good in the car. We've made a blueprint of it. "When we go back, the track conditions might be completely different. I have learned, real fast, that the Brickyard is a temperamental track. The temperature can change speeds one-tenth of a second for every 10 degrees. You might see laps as fast as we ran. If it is cloudy, you'll see them even faster. It really is going to depend on track conditions. We're praying for cloudy and cooler. "I'm ready to go to Indy to compete. I think we're all excited about going. It made me feel good during the test when the guys were actually able to sit down and enjoy a lunch break. They have been thrashing since I got over here. They say a team doesn't have to work quite as hard when it runs fast, so maybe its time for these guys to take a break. I hope so. We'll see."