Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the No. 25 Eckrich Ford Fusion, won at Memphis Motorsports Park in 2003. The Tennessee native talks about short-track racing, being close to home and capturing his first win of the season. He sits 15th in NASCAR ...
Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the No. 25 Eckrich Ford Fusion, won at Memphis Motorsports Park in 2003. The Tennessee native talks about short-track racing, being close to home and capturing his first win of the season. He sits 15th in NASCAR Nationwide Series points.
LAST YEAR'S RACE HAD A RECORD NUMBER OF CAUTIONS, SHOULD WE EXPECT TO SEE A ROUGH RACE AGAIN THIS YEAR? "Yeah, a lot of people will come to this race because there aren't that many Cup guys here. They look at it as an opportunity for them to make a shot at something. So, they'll save up their pennies and save up what they've got to get here for this one race. Last year was a really bad deal because we had a brand new tire that nobody knew and it was hard to figure out. Plus there were a lot of rookies that have never been here or never been on that tire. It was a bad deal and they were trying to shine. They were trying to do what we're supposed to do -- go out there, run good and run up front. It's hard racing and you beat and bang because it is a short track and there will be a lot of cautions. Will it be like last year? No, because we're using a Richmond tire and everybody knows what this tire feels like, how to adapt to it, but there's a bunch of new guys here that I've never seen before. It's going to be interesting. We learned a lot last year. It's a different approach for this race compared to last year."
WERE YOU EAGER TO COME BACK TO MEMPHIS BECAUSE YOU HAD SOME BAD LUCK LAST YEAR? "We've won here and we've ran several good here. We've always run good here. We got taken out here last year so early. So, yes, we were looking forward to coming back here, especially now that we know about the tire. It's one of those deals where you have to be there at the end. To be here at the end, we've got to be more patient than we were last year. I gave guys [rookie drivers] more credit than I needed to. I was passing one on the outside and got turned. We've come back with an agenda. We haven't made it through practice or the race yet, but we have an idea of how we need to handle it, what we need to do and to produce and not be a victim."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT RACING AT MEMPHIS? "Everybody says it's kind of like Richmond, but it's a fat Richmond. The corners are about the same, the banking is about the same, but it's just a whole lot wider and the corners are wider. It's a lot of rolling through the center, which I really like to do. You can get aggressive getting in the corner and picking the throttle up because the surface is good and worn out. A new set of tires makes you feel like Superman, then all of a sudden, 10 laps later, you're having to baby it. It's one of those tracks that you've been there, done that a couple of times and you can get that guy in front you because you know a couple of tricks and how to make it work. It's one of those tracks where knowledge really pays off here. That's another reason why I like it. Plus, we've won here. It brings back good memories, so you like coming back to those places."
ON RACING IN THE HOME STATE OF TENNESSEE. "I'm pretty close to home, but that doesn't really matter too much. Even when we are at home [Nashville] at the Superspeedway, the only difference is that I know where the bathrooms are compared to somebody else. That's it. We travel every week to different places, the crew chiefs have years and years of notes. Last year, we were okay. We weren't as good as needed to be, and I've been here. We've won here. We've finished second, third and top-five. Being close, all it does is make it easy on the travel on your employees because you're just two hours down the road compared to being six or seven hours away. There's no plane ride home. You just jump in the car and go home. That's the easy part."
IN ADDITION TO WINNING HERE, YOU HAVE SOME FAMILY HISTORY AS WELL. "Yeah, the track named a street after my Dad. He's won here and the track honored him with the street. That's pretty special. Memphis was a place he liked because it was close to home. He was the same as I am, if he won at a track, he wanted to go back there. But that's just another legacy that he's set for himself. Being down here at these race tracks, I was always so used to having my bus being next to his bus and it's not like that now. You get here and it's somebody else. It means a lot for the family but it means a lot down the road. My little girl will be up here or going to Graceland and will see her Papa's name on something, that's pretty cool."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO WIN HERE AGAIN? "The biggest and first reason I'd like to win here again, because a win is a win. But one of the coolest things, I think we're getting close to the end of it's time of that Elvis trophy, then they break the mold. That would be one of the coolest things. That's always one of the things that I look at. The money is money. No matter how much money you win, you'll spend it or save it. But those trophies you look at forever. I know my Dad and I came down here to unveil that trophy at Graceland. So when they had that trophy there, that was one of those things where we looked at each other and said, 'Man, we need to win one of those.' I've been close, but just haven't done it. That would be one of the coolest things. That would be one of my proudest moments to get that Elvis trophy. That would be about the extent of it. We won, but check this out, we got this great trophy. That's one of the things you think of."
-credit: ford racing