NASCAR Nextel Teleconference July 13, 2004 Guests: Bobby Hamilton & Dennis Setzer Part 1 of 2 Tracey Judd: Today's guests are the top two drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series, Bobby Hamilton and Dennis Setzer. Bobby owns and drives...
NASCAR Nextel Teleconference
July 13, 2004
Guests: Bobby Hamilton & Dennis Setzer
Part 1 of 2
Tracey Judd: Today's guests are the top two drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series, Bobby Hamilton and Dennis Setzer. Bobby owns and drives the #4 Square D Dodge and is currently 2nd in the points, only 6 behind Dennis Setzer and also the owner of Chad Chaffin #6 Dickies Dodge. Chad enters Gateway 6th in the point standings. Bobby Hamilton Racing has two trucks in the top 10. Bobby creeped closer to Dennis with his series leading 3rd win in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season last Saturday at Kentucky. He also won at Atlanta and Memphis this year. Bobby has 8 top 10 finishes this season to go along with 5 top 5's. Following a 12 year career in the Cup Series where he accumulated 380 starts, posted 4 wins, 5 poles, and was 9th in the 1996 championship standings and was the 1991 Rookie of the Year, Bobby joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series full time last season, posting a 6th place finish in his first run at the championship. He now has 7 career wins in the Truck Series and last year at Gateway Bobby finished 14th in his only truck series appearance at the track to date. Bobby thanks for joining us. You're perhaps the hottest driver in this truck series right now entering Gateway. You've got 2 wins, 3 top 5's, and 5 top 10's in your last 5 races and combined you and Chad have won 3 of the past 6 and finished in top 10 eleven times in than span. Can you talk about the recent dominance of your team and your preparations you guys have going on for Saturday night.
Bobby Hamilton: It's really hard to say. Actually between the two teams we've won four races this year. Chad won Dover and then three of mine, but I think the biggest thing is when I was able to lose the 8 truck out of the shop. We still have it with Chase Montgomery driving it out of another shop and I was able to have a bigger pool of people to choose from and sort of trim the fat and I have real good people with both race teams. I have a lot of good engineers from Dodge and my own personal engineer here at BHR and I think the biggest hit for us is building our own chassis now. We're doing everything in house so that's been the biggest lick for us.
Judd: You talk about you and Chad together especially Chad's win at Dover. How has that whole team situation gone for Bobby Hamilton Racing this year?
Hamilton: It goes good, we got off in left field a little bit. The 18 did two races ago I guess. After he won Dover they were feeling pretty good about themselves and there's nothing wrong with that. I like confidence. They started to do things their own way and we couldn't share information. I walked in there last week and one of my biggest downfalls about myself is I let problems accumulate and I never would say anything about them and I made myself a pact this year that I wouldn't let anything fall through the cracks. We corrected that and it showed in Kentucky because we both had a real good truck there.
Operator: Our first question comes from Debbie Spicer from Zoomster.com.
Spicer : Does your competitive spirit change over time?
Hamilton: I know sure, there have been so many things through my whole career. I've always been really a laid back type of person; I never really show any emotion or anything. I think I got that from Richard Petty actually. Once I left Petty, everywhere I went people would say, well you just don't care, you're not competitive. I'm telling you if I don't run well I stay up for about 3 days and nights. I just don't show it. I think my competitive spirit is strong as it's ever been. I don't know if that's strong enough, but I know that I'm ill as a hornet if I don't run well. That's all I know.
Spicer: Do you have time to think about other interests besides racing?
Hamilton: No, it's my hobby, my life; it's just what I like to do. I say this all the time, my son about 2 months ago had to explain to me what a first down in a football game was. I don't know anything about any other kind of sport besides boxing. I just know they have to knock one another out to win. Now that I own my own company and running these two race teams and looking out for a ton of people here that's what I'm into. I enjoy it a lot. I get here early every day and leave late every night. That's just what I enjoy doing.
Operator: Our next question comes from Dustin Long from Landmark Newspapers.
Long: What were the challenges that Shane (Hmeil) faced among those in the garage area at the beginning of the season when he was returning from his suspension?
Hamilton: I don't know if there were any challenges when he returned because when they return they're trying. I think he took it right in the face to come in there and took it by storm and he was trying to do things the way it should be done. I did an interview with somebody and we just can't tolerate those actions in our business. It's one of the few sports left to stay pretty clean of that type of stuff and I think Shane has done a great job with it since he's come back.
Long: He's put together some strong performances here in the last months or so. Are people looking at him more as a driver more as opposed to this other guy that came back from this situation now?
Hamilton: Well, I think so. When somebody has a reputation fall they make you wonder when they do perform well or perform bad is it because of the problem or not because of the problem. Well we know now that he can perform and live life like he's supposed to live life. We know he's performing pretty straight up and all. I've been watching Shane as a matter of fact. I've looked for young drivers for the next two years and I'm really interested in things he's doing right now.
Operator: Our next question comes from Dave Rodman from NASCAR.com.
Rodman: You've done a lot of experience in the Truck Series and also Nextel Cup or Winston Cup. What's your take on the move to a possible green/white/checker finishes in Cup, can the guys there handle it, you think?
Hamilton: From the way I'm hearing it, they're supposed to be better than the truck drivers. Why can't they? Let me tell you something in all fairness to that, there was once I would say the same things some of them do, we're the ones that raise their hand, we're the ones that walk around with our chests out when a race fan comes up for an autograph. Good or bad, I think it's got to be a good thing right now. My only thing is if I had to make a decision and I was NASCAR, I'd say I'm not listening, we're doing it, but we're going to go from ½ mile race tracks to 1 mile race tracks for the next few races; however their schedule lays, and then we're going to go mile ½ race tracks and then we're not doing it on the restrictor plate race tracks. From a personal opinion I think the restrictor plate race tracks would be easier than any of them because say you run 3 laps at Daytona or Talladega and you lined up single file, it would take 2 or 3 laps for those guys to even pull out of line, they have to get the momentum. I think that would safest green/white/checkered to go with a single file restart. I think people are forgetting that. So you're going to have a single file restart anywhere you go to. It's just very tough to pull out on a restrictor plate race track, but when you do it's only a couple. So I don't think they have time to mess up if they tried. The mile 1/2 race tracks will be a little harder to comprehend, but they're running over one another half way through the race anyhow. The last year I was in Cup and I would go to very good race tracks and look in the grandstands and see empty seats, that's getting worse and we don't need that. It's time to make a change.
Rodman: Switching back to your truck program, you're kind of the hometown benefactor to Chad Chaffin's career and to see him run as well as he has this season. Is that especially gratifying to you because I mean you knew like a lot of people did, that he could get the job done.
Hamilton: Chad and I went back a pretty good ways. He had done a lot of testing for us, so I've been keeping an eye on him. It was funny when Chad came and interviewed for the job. He said, "Tell me what I need to say," and I said, "Well you didn't need to say that." I need to know how bad you want the job; I don't need to tell you what to say. Anyhow we ended up getting it done and last year was the first year the 18 truck had not won. We sat a regrouped and a lot of that wasn't his fault and we sat and talked as a group, Chad and I did and the crew chiefs and that's when we decided to put everything in alike. It's worked well for Chad, I mean he's run good this year and it's well deserved and the Dickies folks love him and his wife is a sweetheart. I've known her since she was a baby and she's a huge cheerleader for the whole race team, she really motivates the guys and motivates Chad, so it's been a pretty pleasurable experience for me.
Operator: Our next question comes from Roger Kuzina from Sporting News.
Kuzina: One of the guys chasing you and Dennis for the championship is Matt Crafton. Have you been surprised at the consistency he's shown with a first year team this year?
Hamilton: Well, not really. Matt ran really well in that 88 truck last year. I actually heard his comment on a news show the other night; I guess he's got 4 top 10's more than any of us. That's a very good race team, I know Kevin Harvick personally and I know he's not going to take anything, but the best to a race track. I know the crew chief there Wally (Rogers) and Matt has done a good job with keeping the fenders on that thing and being there at the end. That's what makes consistent finishes. It's just a matter of time before we win a few races.
Kuzina: You've been driving against him in the past couple of years now. Have you seen a difference or an improvement in Matt's driving in that time?
Hamilton: I think improvements just come with just being with a good race team. I've always said you'll get a lot more pulling the chain than pushing one. You just can't push one, when those things don't drive good, they don't run good down the straight-aways, driving in the corners, there isn't much you can do about it. Not even good equipment and all of a sudden it's making him show his potential. It hasn't surprised me a lot.
Operator: Our next question comes from Dustin Long from Landmark Newspapers.
Long: What are the things that interest you about Shane lately?
Hamilton: The thing is he's happy with himself. I've watched him at Memphis, the race where it was him and I at the end. He ran a clean race and runs very hard and aggressive and he never took advantage of anybody that took advantage of him, he took care of them. That's what I like. I like somebody that stands up for themselves and then after the race he had a very good interview. He was very blunt about it. Just a lot of little things I like in a driver. I don't like any kind of phony personalities, we got plenty of that. That's one thing I like about Tony Stewart. A lot of people don't like what he says, but at least he says it. I like people that will say what's on their mind.
Operator: Our first question comes from Dave Rodman from NASCAR.com.
Rodman: You and (Bobby) Jr. are pretty busy with your schedules, but after he had that huge disappointment in Chicago, did you get to talk to him as a father to a son both in racing and kind of bump your spirits back up?
Hamilton: He's not that Dave, he is not! He gets irritated for the moment, but his next race is New Hampshire, that's the way he looks at it. We didn't talk about it this particular time, but he told me way back and he keeps his standard all the time. What can he do about a motor breaking? He felt he was going to win the race and the motor went sour after the 4th lap, it blew up. He wasn't going pout to or get mad, he finished 43rd and there was nothing he could do about it. He just moved on to the next race. It's not real hard with him.