Michigan Bobby Hamilton Preview

Fuel mileage, power seldom mix for No. 4 Kodak team at Michigan Great fuel mileage and superior horsepower don't usually mix on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. Bobby Labonte played the gas-guessing game and won last Sunday's...

Fuel mileage, power seldom mix for No. 4 Kodak team at Michigan

Great fuel mileage and superior horsepower don't usually mix on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. Bobby Labonte played the gas-guessing game and won last Sunday's race at Dover Downs. Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo, realizes that fuel mileage can also come into play at Michigan Speedway, site of Sunday's Kmart 400. But the 42-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native would rather rely on the extra power under the hood of his Monte Carlo to win the 200-lap event at the two-mile track in the Irish Hills of Michigan. "You've got to use the fuel to make the power," Hamilton said. "We haven't figured out how to make the power without using fuel yet. I did a good job of that at Sears Point last year, but I wasn't shifting as many gears as I should have been, and that's what probably saved the fuel. "I've seen races won with fuel mileage at Michigan, but it just depends on how the cautions fall. If everything goes according to plan, you can make three pit stops and cover the 400 miles, but you can't plan on everything going as planned. "Usually, if you need a caution, you don't get it and if you don't need one, then the yellow flag flies. I don't really care how many yellow flags we see Sunday. I just want to see that checkered flag at the end of 200 laps." Hamilton's last victory came in only his eighth start with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team. Hamilton dominated at Martinsville last April. He won the pole, led most of the race and rolled to a 6.376-second victory over Ted Musgrave. It's been 38 races since Hamilton's last victory, and he's ready to end that drought. "We can win the race at Michigan," Hamilton said. "Everything has to go almost perfect for anybody to win a race these days because it's so competitive, but we can win. I won my first NASCAR Winston Cup pole at Michigan in '96, and it's a great track for racing. "You can go two and three wide and there's plenty of room. We're taking a brand new car that we tested last year at Indianapolis. It was really fast there, and we probably should have raced it in the Brickyard 400. Gary DeHart put a new snout on it, and I think it's going to really be a good one." Hamilton and company started 35th and finished 21st last week at Dover, but the Kodak team saw light at the end of the Monster Mile tunnel. "The car was so good at the end of the race, but by then we were too many laps down to do much with it," Hamilton said. "We had a tire that went bad at the start of the race, so things didn't get off to a good start. We kept working on the car as the race went on, and it was really good at the end. We'll know what to do when we go back next time. "The pit crew has been doing a real good job, but when you get more than a lap down, it's tough for the pit crew to make a big difference. Still, they've been working hard and they've improved a ton since the beginning of the season." Hamilton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team finished 10th in the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Currently 16th after the first 13 races of the '99 campaign, Hamilton and company are 195 points out of 10th place. With almost two-thirds of the season remaining and some of his favorite tracks coming up, Hamilton says it's too early to start sweating. "It's been hot enough to sweat, that's for sure, but we're not going to throw in the towel," Hamilton said. "We've got too much talent on this team to even think about letting up. Gary DeHart stayed home last week from Dover getting the car ready for Daytona, so we're all excited about that. "We had a real good run at Sears Point last year, and I think we'll be better than we were last year at Pocono (two 20th-place finishes). Our engines do have better horsepower than they had last year, and if that's a problem at Michigan or anywhere else, well, it's a good problem to have. "I don't think you'll ever hear a driver complain about having too much motor, even if it does drink the gas. We'll have plans A, B and C ready to go at Michigan, and if those three don't work, we'll try something else. Hopefully those CBS cameras will be focusing on that No. 4 Kodak Chevy running up front this week."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Labonte , Ted Musgrave