CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2002) -- Bobby Hamilton and the Schneider Electric Racing Team are excited about their chances in this weekend's Subway 400 in Rockingham, N.C. The team is planning to race the same car that Hamilton's previous teammate,...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2002) -- Bobby Hamilton and the Schneider Electric Racing Team are excited about their chances in this weekend's Subway 400 in Rockingham, N.C. The team is planning to race the same car that Hamilton's previous teammate, Joe Nemechek, won with last November. But Hamilton is no stranger to victory lane on the 1.017-mile oval. Since Hamilton won the AC Delco 400 in 1997, he has posted five top-10 finishes in the past nine events at the "Rock."
What makes you perform so well in Rockingham?
Rockingham is one of those tracks that I love to race on. It's slick and banked (22 degrees in turns one and two, 25 degrees in three and four) and those are my two favorite qualities about a racetrack. It's pretty smooth there actually. You can use every groove, be it two-wide or even three-wide, to race on. It just takes finding that one groove that works well with your car. When you race there, you have to run really fast, but you can't spin the tires. If you spin the tires there it could cost you about 10 laps or so on the wear of them. You have to run smart at Rockingham to finish it.
This is the first event that will use the one engine rule. Is the No. 55 Chevy prepared for the long haul?
We are prepared. We tested over the winter with one engine in Nashville. We drove around that track with one engine for about 700 miles. This race is not as long as the others coming up so we wanted to prepare for the longest we thought we'd ever run. We only go 400 laps in Rockingham. Our motor shop has worked really hard to get our engines above the rest of the field. The real test will be when we get to Atlanta because it's such a hard, long race on the cars.
The Schneider Electric Racing Team rallied back in Daytona to complete the event, bringing your total no DNF (did not finish) streak to 39 finishes. Do you think you can keep it up to beat Dale Earnhardt's (53 finishes) record?
You know we're going to try every way we can to break it. I think it says a whole lot for our team that we finished every event last year. It says even more that last weekend they took a car that practically burnt to the ground and I raced it at the end. Charley (Pressley, Crew Chief) and the guys work hard at our goals. That's why our chemistry at the racetrack shows. We have a camaraderie that keeps our program so strong.
Rockingham is part of the roots of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. What does this mean to you, a veteran in the sport of many new young drivers?
I've been racing for a long time and over the years I've seen a lot of changes. It seems like every new track that's built on the circuit is bigger so they can house more people for the race. It's fun to go back to the originals. Rockingham has been good to me. I enjoy going there and running like we used to run on Saturday nights. That track is part of the roots of our sport and although it's important to see our sport grow, it's also important to know where it all came from.