CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2002) -- "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Oh, RESPECT just a little bit, just a little bit." Aretha Franklin's song could be the theme song for this weekend's Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2002) -- "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. Oh, RESPECT just a little bit, just a little bit." Aretha Franklin's song could be the theme song for this weekend's Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. For veterans or rookies, the legendary 1.366-mile oval is known to be difficult and demanding. But Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton smiles and says, "Bring it on." Hamilton respects the "Lady in Black" and is looking to add another top-10 finish to his record of five on the granddaddy of superspeedways.
And Hamilton is not the only one who wants to add another strong performance in Darlington to his plate. His crew chief, Jimmy Elledge, places Darlington as one of the top places he has always dreamed of winning a race. Elledge took a few minutes away from arranging his busy testing schedule in October to discuss this weekend's personal goals.
Why is winning this race so important to you? Are there other places that you would add to this winning list?
"Darlington is a place that has been around since NASCAR started. You can feel the history when you walk into the garage area. Ever since my dad took me there for the first time, I have always loved that place. And now being a Winston Cup crew chief, I have the chance to help my driver win a race at a place that is so historic. And that is my ultimate dream. I've always wanted to be a crew chief with a lot of wins under my belt, but to have a win in Darlington would almost be like winning the Daytona 500 to me. Now don't get me wrong, I would take a win anywhere we race on this circuit, but Darlington would be really special."
Why does Darlington pose such a threat to drivers?
"It didn't get its nicknames like 'Lady in Black' or 'Too Tough to Tame' because it was easy to race and win on. Only the elite can win there. Drivers complain about how Darlington can knock you for a loop at any time. Bobby is good about keeping his car out of trouble, but sometimes you can't always help what is going on around you. This place is famous for a 'Darlington Stripe' on the side of the car. It doesn't matter how hard or clean you race, most of the cars pull back into the garage after it's over with a stripe down the side."
On a different note, you confirmed a testing schedule throughout the end of the year. What places are on your schedule?
"We will go straight to Atlanta after Kansas City to test for two days (Oct. 1-2). Then we will test in Martinsville for two days (Oct. 8-9) after Talladega. The last test we will do this year is after the Charlotte race in Phoenix on Oct. 14th and 15th. It's getting crazy here coming down to the end of the season but we want the best finishes we can possibly have this year. So testing at places will help us."