Hamilton discusses strategy for road courses CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 7, 2002) -- Thirteen of nineteen races in Watkins Glen, N.Y., have been won from a top-10 starting position. Interesting fact, but does it take only the driver to make a winning...
Hamilton discusses strategy for road courses
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 7, 2002) -- Thirteen of nineteen races in Watkins Glen, N.Y., have been won from a top-10 starting position. Interesting fact, but does it take only the driver to make a winning trek around the 2.45-mile road course or does it take a village to help? Actually it takes a garage full of wrench turners to put a Winston Cup entry together before it is even tested at a race track. And once at the track, it takes a whole pit crew to make the necessary adjustments the driver calls for in the short time given to them.
The Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen is unique to any other race on the circuit. This weekend drivers will enter pit road from the opposite direction than normal. Teams will service the driver's side of the car first -- a big difference from the normal practice of right-side-first pit stops.
It takes 100% effort from the whole team to make it up front in Watkins Glen. The pit crew can make or break a good finish for the driver, or the driver can lose positions gained on pit road with one little slip on the track. As for this weekend, Schneider Electric Racing driver Bobby Hamilton and his crew chief, Jimmy Elledge, have done their homework and are ready to discuss this off-beat weekend.
Bobby, how can a driver move through the field in Watkins Glen? Isn't it almost impossible to pass on that course?
"Watkins Glen is one of those tricky places to get up front. Qualifying means a lot there. If you start up front, then hopefully you can hold your own to stay there. But if you start in the back, you have to work and work to get up there. There are a couple of places, the chicane and turn one, where drivers like to make their move. You would think with 11 turns that we could find more room to pass, but it's all twists and turns.
"We go faster there than we do in Sonoma. It doesn't have a lot of hills California there either. We'll go the fastest speeds down the straightaway and into the inner loop. So brakes will wear out really easy. To make it up front, you have to think about where your feet are, when to change gears and where to turn the wheel next. All at the same time, you need to remember to watch your fluid levels for the engine and the gas pressure. It's tricky, but fun to race."
Jimmy, have you changed anything on the road course car since Sonoma that might help Hamilton's performance at the Glen?
"We put a new body on this car after we saw some things we didn't like in Sonoma. I think it will be much better this race. The problem with road course cars is that we only race them twice a year and so they get outdated really easy. So it's important to revisit and redo some things after you test it or see how it races. And now we expect better results."