Qualifying, pit crew priorities for Morgan-McClure at Darlington Kodak MAX Film Racing Team owner Larry McClure wants to give his team every advantage on Sunday in the TranSouth 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Darlington Raceway. ...
Qualifying, pit crew priorities
for Morgan-McClure at Darlington
Kodak MAX Film Racing Team owner Larry McClure wants to give his team every advantage on Sunday in the TranSouth 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Darlington Raceway. In order to do that, McClure realizes he must put a premium on Friday's first-round qualifying session and his No. 4 Morgan-McClure pit crew in Sunday's race. Driver Bobby Hamilton hasn't started a race higher than 16th this season. He has a ninth-place finish at Rockingham and a 12th-place run last Sunday at Atlanta in the Chevy the team will race at Darlington. Starting closer to the front could help improve those performances, and faster pit stops will also make Hamilton's job easier, according to McClure. "We've got two new people on our crew, and they're making rookie mistakes," McClure said. "It's been real costly, so improving the pit crew is my biggest priority. "The car was real good at Atlanta, and Bobby drove a great race. But we sent him backwards every time he came in to pit. You can't start and pass and work your way to eighth or ninth and then lose five spots in the pits and do it again and again and again. "I think the pit crew is the biggest thing holding us back, and we're probably going to make some changes for Darlington. It's hard to motivate your driver when you keep taking him backwards." The Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc., team recently completed a two-day test at Darlington, and Hamilton said he was pleased with the outcome. "It's the first time I'd ever driven one of Gary DeHart's Chevys at Darlington, and I was really impressed," Hamilton said of the No. 4 Race Team Coordinator. "The car was good at Rockingham and Atlanta, too, so we think we've got a proven product for Darlington. "I've never really run good at Darlington, but we ought to be OK if you base in on the test. The race is a different deal, though. We really need to get in a good qualifying lap so we can start up front and pit on the front stretch." Hamilton, in his second season behind the wheel of the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo, moved to 15th in the series standings after his 12th-place showing in Atlanta. Hamilton finished 10th in the final 1998 standings and is shooting for the top five in '99. He currently trails fifth-place Mark Martin by 122 points but isn't ready to push the panic button just yet. "We've got 30 races left, and that's a lot of racing," Hamilton said. "I know this team is going to get better. All the ingredients are there. We just need to go to Darlington this week and qualify up front to get everyone's confidence up. "You can qualify bad there and still have a halfway decent run. You can do that anywhere. Just look at Jeff Burton last week at Atlanta. He started 37th and finished fourth. "We've got to learn how to do that if we qualify bad, but the bottom line is I've got to qualify better. I guess maybe when they flip-flopped the track at Darlington it confused me a little bit. When I qualify for a back-stretch pit now, I think I'm on the front stretch. But I know where the new front stretch is, and that's where we want to be pitting. "Darlington is a tough track, and I don't really like it much because I've never had much luck there. But I'll guarantee you that some of the drivers who do well there don't like it, either. It's a handful. "We'll try to qualify on Friday and then work on our race setup the rest of the weekend. I'd really like to come out of there with a strong run, get a good, solid finish, and move up a spot or two in the standings."