BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Bailey's Cigarettes Dodge Ram) NOTE: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series scheduled test session at Daytona International Speedway was rained out Saturday and the trucks did not get on the track Sunday morning because of rain.
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Bailey's Cigarettes Dodge Ram)
NOTE: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series scheduled test session at Daytona International Speedway was rained out Saturday and the trucks did not get on the track Sunday morning because of rain. Sunday's afternoon session may also be in jeopardy because of rain.
Also, defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton announced Saturday that Bailey's Cigarettes will sponsor two of his trucks in 2005. The company will sponsor Hamilton's No. 4 Dodge in 12 races, while rookie Timothy Peters will drive the No. 04 Dodge out of the BHR shop in 11 races with Bailey's as the primary sponsor. Casey Atwood will drive the No. 04 Bailey's Dodge Ram in three events.
"Timothy has been with these guys and won a lot of Late Model races, so I feel like this is a great opportunity for me," Hamilton said. "I'm old, and I'm looking for younger guys to carry BHR to the next level. Casey Atwood will drive the truck for the first three races because of Timothy's rookie status. Timothy will start in Martinsville."
DO YOU HAVE OTHER SPONSORSHIP LINED UP FOR THE 4 TRUCK?
"I do, and I've got an announcement to make before Daytona. I was in a panic. I'm not so sure that selling it off for X amount of races isn't the way to go. It's a headache, but I think it's going to be a better deal for me in the end. It makes you play the musical seat game a little bit. I've got Daytona pretty much sewed up. I wouldn't be surprised if Square D was on for 10-12 races. They've still got market areas they need to do some things in. I might be short two or three races, but we're in good enough shape now that once I get the ball rolling we're actually better shape than we were at this time last year."
DO YOU HAVE SOME OTHER TRUCKS THIS SEASON?
"The 18 truck is run by Chase Montgomery. Chase's dad foots the bill on that one. Debra Renshaw went to the 8 truck. Chase has done a great job testing. We've been to Colorado Springs a bunch of times to test and he's run faster out there than Chad or I have. We went to Talladega and I drafted with Debra. I went 197 mph in the draft with her, so if I can just keep her head screwed on straight we might see something out of that. Everything is new, but you guys know me. I just take it in stride and go on to the next step. It's not a big deal. It's still go in to the shop, punch the security code in to start the alarms. Write the paychecks and pay the bills, go to the racetrack and race, go home and sleep for four hours and get up and go at it again."
WILL IT BE EVEN HARDER TO REPEAT AS CHAMPION THIS SEASON?
"I never really race for the championship until five or six to go. I think if you win the most races and have the least DNFs you're the guy at the end. We know when Toyota comes in and all the other manufacturers stepping up like they have that it does get tougher. Ricky Craven is coming back and Roush is hiring younger drivers. It is getting more competitive and drawing more attention. It's OK for me. I felt like winning the championship last season was one of the toughest in the truck series. I have people say all the time, 'I won this with Ron Hornaday in 1996 and I'm coming to kick your tail.' I say 'buddy, times change. Bring it on. You'd better eat your Wheaties because you're going to need 'em.' "
WITH ALL THE VETERANS COMING BACK TO THE TRUCK SERIES THIS SEASON WILL IT MAKE IT EVEN MORE INTENSE?
"Yes, it will, but Dick Trickle told me this in 1991. You just look at it as another truck or car. You don't pay any attention to who's in 'em. That's sort of the way I do it. It's easy to do that because I'm the guy that owns it too, and I don't have to answer to a lot of people. I'm just going to go out there and have a lot of fun. That's the way I did it last year. I raced when I wanted to and rode when I wanted to. I made the right decisions and we were there at the end. I think as long as I can drive the wagon like that, and I've already got one under my belt so I know what not to do. I know how to lose 'em. I did that the year before. I know how to lose 'em and I know a little bit how to win 'em even though people like Sprague and Hornaday have more experience with that. I've always said when you surround yourself with good people in any business and good product, it usually works good."
ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE NOW IN THE TRUCK SERIES?
"The year before I moved to the truck series I won. It wasn't that big of a deal to me. I wanted to be happy. I was happy in the truck deal as long as I was running good, but when lake houses and airplanes and things like that became more important than the latest cylinder head or the latest aero guy, then I just didn't want to be a part of it. I'm a racer. I don't care about anything else. They talk about stick and ball stuff all the time. If it doesn't have slicks and headers on it, I don't mess with it. I'm very serious about what I do. In order for me to fill that void I just went back and drove for myself. If it goes where I want it to go in two or three years I'll have my own Cup deal and somebody else will drive it, but I won't do it unless you can race the way you're supposed to race. I wasn't uncomfortable with the situation, but I wasn't going to let anybody else control my destiny. The only way to do that is to go do your own deal. It's different when you get out of a Cup car and then have to come back and drive for somebody else. The people most of them guys are driving for are Cup owners anyway. I'm in Nashville, Tenn. I don't ever talk to Richard Childress. I like him. I don't ever talk to Rick Hendrick. I love him. I don't ever talk to Roush. He's OK. I do my own deal, and I don't have to answer to any of those guys. I have to answer to somebody at NASCAR about rules or whatever. We try to stay in good graces with them. I think we've done a good job at that in the past. We're very proud at what we do, and we have a blast at it."
WHEN YOU HEAR THE TRUCK SERIES CALLED THE SENIOR CIRCUIT AND THE CUP CIRCUIT CALLED A SERIES FOR THE YOUNG GUYS HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
"It makes me feel like if it made that person feel good, then that's OK. All I can tell 'em is strap in. Tony Stewart won it two times in a row and the last time after the Richmond race he came to me and said that was the hardest thing he'd ever done for third place. It's tougher. I invite any of them to come back. Look at Harvick. He won at Bristol and finished eighth or ninth or whatever. It's just different right now. Kasey Kahne came in and won two in a row. Robert Pressley won the first race he ever started at Daytona. It's OK. It's coming to that. Regardless of how you look at it, if a 47-year-old guy like me is too old to run Cup, what the hell is the difference if you let 'em go to 60 and they can't even breath anymore? You've still got to have kids come in and do it. I think we're blessed with a good crop of kids. Everybody is still looking for another Jeff Gordon. They'll never find it, but they're looking for it. It's just not out there. I've always said if we hadn't lost Dale Earnhardt up here in turn three we wouldn't even be talking about it. He'd be about 54 right now making examples out of 'em when they're coming in like he did then. It's just a trend making the sport more colorful, and I'm for it. Whatever makes the sport better I'm for."
DO YOU THINK THE TRUCK SERIES HAS MORE CHARISMA?
"I think the truck series has more charisma. When the truck series was brought on it was a great idea to bring young drivers in. You know the young drivers who came in back then very seldom went any further. When the Cup guys started going back to the truck series all of a sudden it became high school instead of elementary. When these guys leave the truck series now, we've seen Roush do it a couple of times, he just takes them straight out of trucks and skips Busch. He won the championship with one of those guys last year. When they come out of the trucks now and they race against me or Hornaday or Skinner or Musgrave, they went to school for a change instead of just coming in and driving against a lot of people like them. I don't mean that in a bad way, but the schooling is a lot harder now."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THE WAY THE SERIES HAS GROWN?
"We can see with the tracks we're going to, we've got 16 events with the Cup guys this year, they're trying to do things that will draw more attention to the series. It's the pecking order, and I understand that, but we're getting better and better this year. I look to see more manufacturers coming in. I don't know who it will be, but I think as Toyota gets more and more successful I think somebody else will follow suit. The more that happens, the more popularity it's going to have. You're going to see some different things this year. The people that came back who thought it was easy who won all the truck races before and I don't think but one race was won by all of them, then holy cow. What happens then? It's like restrictor plate racing or racing at Bristol and tempers flare. We're going to see the old truck series again and NASCAR is going to be handing out more fines than they ever have but it's going to make the popularity of the truck series better."
WILL DODGE BE THE TRUCK TO BEAT AGAIN THIS YEAR?
"I think the manufacturers are pretty equal, and I think the best teams win the races. Toyota and them do a great job, but I don't care who it is or how much money they've got. You don't take an entity and put it in place without taking time for all the people to learn how to work together. You've got to have a good working atmosphere and the more people they have the longer it takes to go through your good personalities and your bad personalities. There's some things in this sport that money just don't buy, and that's the way teams work together. I think the Dodge teams have very good teams right now. We're certainly not going to win all the races. We never have, but the other teams will have to work as hard as they ever have to outrun us, and we'll have to work as hard as we ever have to stay on top."