Martinsville: Bobby Hamilton preview

Hamilton talks about flaring tempers and keys to winning Martinsville. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 10, 2002) -- Humble 44-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native Bobby Hamilton doesn't think Martinsville is his best track, although his record begs to...

Hamilton talks about flaring tempers and keys to winning Martinsville.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 10, 2002) -- Humble 44-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native Bobby Hamilton doesn't think Martinsville is his best track, although his record begs to differ. In the past 13 races, the Schneider Electric Chevrolet driver has logged one win, five top-five and seven top-10 finishes on Martinsville Speedway's .526-mile oval. In his first year with Andy Petree Racing, Hamilton led the most laps in the spring race before he claimed a top-five finish. In the fall event, he was in contention for the win until Hamilton and Kevin Harvick tangled late in the race.

This weekend Hamilton is pulling double duty. He owns three truck teams, who will race on Saturday. He also will coach his Winston Cup car owner, Andy Petree, who is also scheduled to race in the truck event. But his focus has not faltered, and the NASCAR veteran is determined to win this weekend's Virginia 500.

Why is Martinsville one of those tracks where you run so well?

I don't think I run well there. I don't go there with a different level of confidence because it's not one of my best tracks. Look at the common denominators that track has with other places. It's a short track, so if that is why I'm good, then why am I not better in Bristol? Or if it's because the track is flat, then I should be better at all the other flat tracks on the circuit, and I'm not. I can't explain why I run well there. I just tend to have good performances there for some odd reason.

What is the key at Martinsville?

That track is a very disciplined race track. I call it a small restrictor-plate race. I know that sounds funny, but it requires the same amount of discipline as Daytona (Beach, Fla.) and Talladega (Ala.) do. You got to keep your nose on the car, keep the brake ducts on it, can't cave the grill in or it will bend the duct work around it. Cooling is a must there. It's one of those places where you have to run a manual fan. It's hard on rear ends, hard on transmissions, hard on motors. About every gauge in that car has to stay cool. Any time you get anything up at high heat levels, it's so hard on your equipment. Track position and good pit work is as major as a good race car there. Most of the veteran drivers will have the patience to make it around that track.

Does Martinsville lend itself to be a track where tempers flare such as the events that happened in Bristol?

Stuff doesn't happen there a lot. The deal between Harvick and me last year was a race-determining factor, but stuff like that doesn't usually happen. You just can't let up. You have to go through the middle of the corner on a small track, but a car will only run well in the middle of the corner if it's free. But then all of a sudden you can't push the accelerator down because the car is too free. So when you get the car where you can push the accelerator down, then it won't turn in the middle. It's a driver's-type racetrack. You know where you need to give to gain on the other end.

-ser-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Kevin Harvick , Andy Petree