The Winston Kodak Team Preview

McClure watched season's best run from a different vantage point Larry McClure watched from a suite at Richmond International Raceway last Saturday night as Bobby Hamilton and the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Racing Team scored their best...

McClure watched season's best run from a different vantage point

Larry McClure watched from a suite at Richmond International Raceway last Saturday night as Bobby Hamilton and the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Racing Team scored their best finish of the season in the Pontiac Excitement 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race. That's a different vantage point for the veteran car owner from Abingdon, Va. McClure usually watches the action from the pits, but he stepped back Saturday night and watched Hamilton drive the No. 4 Kodak Monte Carlo to a fourth-place finish. "I wanted to see how everybody else was racing," McClure said. "I watched how the race unfolded. You just get a different view from the suite. I wanted to watch the intensity of our team, too, and I thought they did a pretty good job. "We need to pick up a second on our pit stops, but the last three or four races, the pit crew has done pretty good. They're getting more consistent." Will McClure return to the pits for Saturday night's running of The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.? "If I thought I could stay away from the track all together and we'd win the race, then I would," McClure said. "I'd do whatever it takes, but I don't think me not being in the pits had anything to do with the way we ran Saturday night at Richmond. We did finish sixth at Richmond in the last race there, and I wasn't in the pits then, either. "I was in the pits when we finished seventh at Darlington earlier this season, and I've been in the pits every time we've won a race. But I may be up in the suite Saturday night at Charlotte. I haven't decided yet. It just gives you a different perspective watching the race from the suites, and I'm looking for a few things you can't see in the pits." It didn't matter if McClure was in the pits or a suite last Saturday night because confidence in the team and driver was evident from either location. Hamilton scored his first top-five finish of the season, his third top 10 and moved from 20th to 17th in the series standings. He's 172 points out of 10th place, and that's where he finished the 1998 campaign. Hamilton hadn't finished higher than 18th in the past five races before Saturday night and had dropped from 13th to 20th in the standings. The Morgan-McClure team qualified 15th at Richmond and gradually worked its way to the front. Other top teams battled tire problems, but the Kodak Chevy managed to avoid those headaches and miss all the wrecks in the process. "We were a little bit off, but at times we were faster than the leaders," McClure said. "The car gave up a little bit at the end. We had a brake problem, and we eased up a little bit when everybody started having tire problems. We didn't overpower anybody down the straightaways, but nobody overpowered us, either. "We tested at Greenville-Pickens before Richmond, and that gave us something to run on. When we got to Richmond, we didn't have to change that much. We felt confident going into the race, and we talked after the race. I think we'll be better there next time." Now it's on to Charlotte for Saturday night's 15th running of The Winston under the lights at the 1.5-mile, 24-degree banked track. "We seem to excel in the night races," McClure said. "Maybe our strategy is better with the setups. We qualified well for the 500 last fall at Charlotte and ran fourth. I think we'll be good again. "That run at Richmond will boost everybody's confidence. I told Bobby before the race at Richmond that we were going to start a new season that night, and I think we took a big step forward. The Winston could be a confidence booster, too. "It's time to rally the troops. We've got a lot of racing left, but it's time to get to it. We've got some fast cars, and now we're going to make them last. We gained three spots in the standings at Richmond, and we could do the same thing at Charlotte with a good run in the 600. "We'll use The Winston as a tuneup and go from there. We had a good test at Charlotte. From last year to this year, we've gained 40 horsepower. A lot of people were ahead of us, but I think we've closed the gap in the engine department. We're more competitive now." The Morgan-McClure team will use two different Chevys during the two weekends at Charlotte, but McClure is confident that both cars will get the job done. "We've got a good car for the 600," McClure said. "It's the same car we ran fourth with there in the fall. We're shaking a car down for The Winston, and it looks good, too, but we'll save our best car for the 600. We're going to go and try to win The Winston, but we've got to be realistic, too, and realistically, The Winston can be another good test session to see how we stack up for the 600." And it'll provide another opportunity for McClure to decide where he's going to watch the race.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton