This Week in Ford Racing May 11, 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Taurus, is poised to make another run at the NASCAR Busch Series championship with consistent runs the past two weeks. Hamilton, currently...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 11, 2004
NASCAR Busch Series
Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Taurus, is poised to make another run at the NASCAR Busch Series championship with consistent runs the past two weeks. Hamilton, currently eighth in the point standings, spoke about the upcoming races and his team's progress during a break while testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
BOBBY HAMILTON, JR. -25-Team Marines Ford Taurus
YOU SEEM TO BE HITTING YOUR STRIDE NOW, SIMILAR TO YOUR SEASON LAST YEAR. "We kind of knew there was going to be a learning curve because of the new tire. A lot of people thought the new tire wasn't that big of a deal, but it is and if it wasn't, why did we change it? And, a lot of our stuff from last year is not working as far as springs and shocks and you have to relearn the stuff. We only have two hours of practice to figure it out, and we don't have an extra Cup practice like a lot of these guys do. We have to learn it in two hours or go test like we are now. The last two weeks, we were a top-five car at California but had pit problems, and last week at Gateway we were another top-five car. We went and tested at Richmond and we were extremely fast there, so we're starting to find the trend of what this tire likes and you can see the difference. And last year, we didn't have Harold Holly. All of sudden we got with Harold, and he had so many notes from the last generation tire that we started to beat them the minute he got here. Now, we're starting to figure it out. You hear stuff at the track about how they've written you off and the 8 car is going to win the championship, but that's the media and that's why they call it the media - they make good stories."
HAROLD HOLLY HAS BEEN WITH THE TEAM FOR NEARLY ONE YEAR. HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR COMFORT ZONE WITH HIM CALLING THE HITS? "A lot of these tracks he didn't go to with us. Dover will be the first place that we go back to that he'll be with us for a second time. It's the same deal but with a different tire. It's almost been a year since he's been with me and we're still building new race cars. There are all kinds of things we're doing to try to make our team better. It might hurt us one week and help us two weeks down the road. We're starting to get it all back in order and our pit stops are great and the feel is back in the race car that I like, so at any time we can get back on our horse."
YOU TESTED AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY. HOW IS THE NEW RACING SURFACE? "Last year, I think the middle of the corners was where all your speed was, and now getting in the corner has grip, and in the center of the corner the brakes are nowhere near wearing out. You don't even touch them there. You just let off the gas and the gear slows you down to get you through the center of the corner. And then when you're on the gas, you're wide open and not half throttle. The speed is from the center out, and these new tires aren't falling off either, so that's the cool thing. Some of these places we've been going to, you're three seconds quicker than you were last year, but in five laps you can't even hold on to the car. The tires there, they get to their spot and they stay there all day long until you come in to change them."
"Also, you have a lot of marbles on the outside, so I think we all have to get together with NASCAR and try to get the lapped cars to go to the high side and give us the bottom. They've done that before to help us out, but definitely there are some guys that haven't got it figured out and they're way off at the end of a run compared to the fast guys. The speed is there at Richmond so you can really draw up on somebody and it gets confusing because you draw up so quick they don't know where to go to, but NASCAR in the drivers' meeting will tell them where to go."
WHERE DO YOU EXPECT MOST OF THE PASSING TO TAKE PLACE NOW? "Turn four. A lot of guys are getting in there and shoving up, but you can really get the car turning in the middle now. Both corners are pretty decent, but I think off of four is where the majority of the passing is going to be."
LAST WEEKEND'S RACE AT GATEWAY WAS A ONE-DAY SHOW, THE FIRST OF THREE THIS SEASON. DO YOU FEEL THAT NASCAR COULD EXPAND THE SCHEDULE IF MORE RACES WERE ONE-DAY VENTS? "It wouldn't be that big of a deal to bump it to 40 races if you're only in there for one day. If you can get in there on Thursday night and race on a Friday night, you won't hear anybody complaining about 40 races. But the way you're going now, you're there Thursday, Friday and Saturday and turn around and have to be back like this week on a Wednesday. It's ridiculous because there's not enough time to get everything done in the shop with the time you've got. We don't have a 100-plus people in the shop getting stuff done. It doesn't bother me as a driver because I jump on a plane and go home, but the guys, they suffer from it. It's a long day, but you still have your weekends and your week isn't so demanding."
DOES THE HEAT HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE DRIVERS AND TEAMS WITH THE ONE-DAY SCHEDULE? "I think they'll trade that one day to get out of there in one day. It's not that bad. The way the garages are and these guys are real good about drinking water, and you don't see them pass out. The guys in the garage are just as much athletes as the guys in the race car. They're on a workout plan, too. They're all professionals and they know what they have to do and they set their minds to it and get it done."
THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES IS 10 RACES INTO THE SCHEDULE. BASED OFF OF YOUR CURRENT STANDING, WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF A 10-RACE SHOOTOUT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE END OF THE SEASON? "I'm not really in favor of it, but I think it's going to be pretty cool to see what happens. The only thing that scares me about it is that with 10 races to go if you have a parts failure and it's nothing your team did, it's kind of hard to make up those points in nine other races. If you had a guy that is leading all the way and then all of a sudden it goes into the tenth race and he has a parts failure and he's 10th instead of first, that would be tough to swallow. There are so many little things that can cost you a championship. I think a champion needs to be decided over the course of the year, whoever is the most consistent and wins the most races. Of course, it would have benefited us last year, but I'm in favor of the way it is because the guy who wins the championship deserves it throughout the year."