BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Finished 1st) "I figured this was going to be like another Richmond. I was able to lead a lot of laps today; everything just fell our way. Biffle had a strong car and he ended up blowing up or...
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR.-25-Team Marines Ford Taurus (Finished 1st)
"I figured this was going to be like another Richmond. I was able to lead a lot of laps today; everything just fell our way. Biffle had a strong car and he ended up blowing up or whatever. Everything just fell in our way. I think we left some lug nuts off the left-rear, and instead of chancing it, we came back in and came from the rear. When you have a car like I had, you can do that. And, the bottom worked. I should have listened to Shane Hmiel yesterday. I was able to get down on the bottom and the Marines Ford would just hook up off the corner, and I was able to pass a lot of people down there."
YOU CAME FROM THE BACK A COUPLE OF TIMES. DID YOU HAVE ANY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS? "I'm afraid to even look at the right side of the car. I could see that one of the fenders was flattened, and I was like, boy, I've gotta win this thing to at least pay for the body. The car was just incredible. It would just cut under people so bad and I had so much forward bite, I was able to beat them off the corner. My hat's off to all the guys we raced for for position. They could have run me dirty and there were a couple of times that they snuck under me and I didn't see them and cut them off, and they could have turned me and they didn't. It was our day. Last week wasn't our week and today was our day."
HOW DISHEARTENING IS IT TO GET SHUFFLED BACK TWICE? WAS IT MORE OF A MENTAL CHALLENGE AT THAT POINT? "To be honest with you, I pretty much gave up. Fred and all of the guys were reading my times and I got stuck in traffic and I was like, 'We gave this one away.' They just kept pumping me up, keeping my cool, and before you knew it, I was fifth and I could see the guys; I was running them down. I got by the 7 car, and there were the leaders right there. The car was so good, I could wait for them to slip and then get by them; that's how good my car was. I knew how good of a car it was, it was just a matter of time and if the right circumstances fell."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PIT STOP? "I think they left some lug nuts off the left-rear. I could feel it moving around and I didn't know if it was trash on the tires, so we just came in, and sure enough, it was. We about gave it away, but the car was so good, it was able to come back to the front."
CRITIQUE THE RACE TRACK. "It was two-wide racing here. I think we showed that. I know last year, you couldn't have done what we did today. I was able to go through the center and run straight off to where the grass was and pass cars. They've done an excellent deal with the track. It's got so much grip down there. I don't know if it was just qualifying compared to the race now, it just had so much grip today. You could just run your left-front down there and pick up three tenths. The bottom was the fastest way around today."
DID YOU MAKE ANY ADJUSTMENTS ON THE CAR THE SECOND TIME YOU CAME IN? "We tightened it up in 3 and 4. I was a little loose on newer tires and as soon as we tightened it up, it tightened it up in 3 and 4 and it made the car cut better in 1 and 2, and I was able to sling it around more entering the corners to make more time up. It was just a small adjustment. That's how good the car was when we unloaded. I think all we changed all weekend was a right-front spring and we went down 25 pounds and went down on the bar, and we made an adjustment on the pit stop, and that was it for the whole week."
YOU SEEMED TO BE FASTER IN 1 AND 2 THAN 3 AND 4. "I was able to run right along that wall off of 4 and a lot of guys couldn't turn to get down there and my car could. In 3 and 4, everybody kind of minded their manners through there; it was a little slick. But, in 1 and 2, you could really sling the car through the inside to make the pass. It was just a spot that I found that I liked, kinda like my sweet spot. I tried to get with them in 3 and 4, and pass them in and 1 and 2."
WHAT HAPPENED ON YOUR FIRST STOP? "We had a little bit of trouble. I don't know what it was. And then Todd got way out there and we pretty much had to use the car to get to him. And then we had the last caution. We had plenty of chances to give it away, but all of my guys stuck together and we pulled it together."
DESCRIBE THE PASS YOU MADE TO LEAD. DID YOU HIT THE SWEET SPOT AGAIN? "It surprised me. I thought I was going to have to run a couple of laps behind him (Hmiel), and I think he slipped off of 2 a little bit, and the Marines Ford didn't. It drove like it had 300 more horsepower off that corner than he did and I was there. That's where he could have ran me down in 3 and 4 but he didn't. That was surprising because you usually get around a rookie and you're all over them, but he raced like a veteran today. Like I said, my hat's off to all of those guys because they could have raced us dirty all the way through the field and they didn't. I got to him, I got under him and he let me go."
DID YOU TALK TO YOUR DAD? "For about a minute. And then I think he was crying and he hung up on me accidentally or something."
DO YOU EXPECT THAT HE WILL WANT TO DEBRIEF ABOUT THE TRACK? "Oh yeah. I guarantee you that he'll be on the phone with Fred tomorrow wanting to know springs, shocks and tire pressures, and everything that we had. He was on the phone with me all week wanting to know what the track was doing, how it was doing on tires, and this and that. That's one good thing about having a crew chief like we've got. He can make the car so good, and Andy (Petree) and all of them guys will call my shop 100 times a day wanting to know information."
WHEN DID YOU THINK YOU COULD WIN THE RACE? YOU SEEMED LIKE YOU WERE THE LAST PERSON YOU HAD TO CONVINCE THAT YOU COULD WIN THE RACE. "Well, I was. Probably when I was behind the 92. When I saw that I caught the 92, I was thinking, 'If everything goes good and I don't wreck myself, I can win this race.' I think he was a little loose. Everybody was a little loose off the corner but us today. That thing would just hook up off the corner, and there was nothing that anybody could do. We got lucky today, but I'll take it."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE A WINNER ON THE BUSCH SERIES? "It means a lot because it was so horrible last year. You would qualify good and run in the back all day long. But here, it doesn't matter where you qualify. With Fred and all the guys, the Marines Ford is fast every week. I've got me a race car that I can race. And it helps my confidence every week because instead of getting passed, I can pass cars; I'm a threat every week. Just the biggest thing is the confidence level as far as the team and me. And another thing that I like about it, they say when you win your first one, it gets easier after that. If that's what it takes to get them easy, I'll do it."