Bobby Hamilton Sr-Jr teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Do you look at your Dad differently? BH Jr.: No. I don't. But at the same time, it's such a scary word. My wife, Stephanie, has lost about 10 people to cancer. When I heard, the automatic first response was 'How...

Continued from part 1

Q: Do you look at your Dad differently?

BH Jr.: No. I don't. But at the same time, it's such a scary word. My wife, Stephanie, has lost about 10 people to cancer. When I heard, the automatic first response was 'How bad is it?' Of course, he's going to protect me from a lot of things. It wasn't too long ago that Stephanie and my dad had a talk. They had like a best friend talk, and I wasn't there. I was testing. Afterward, she sat me down and told me 'You've got to be there.' Everybody's there for him, but at the same time, you know how thick family is. My way of dealing with it was not talking about it because we didn't have the words. When people asked how my dad was, I said he's fine. There's nothing wrong. He's just taking a break. I looked at it like he was just on a beach somewhere hanging out. The fact is, he's battling cancer and he's going beat it. But I know there might be a day and I hope to God it never happens -- I don't want to think about it -- but there might be a day that I might lose him. I hate to even think about it. We weren't a family that would pat on each other or hug on each other before a race. But now, I make sure that every time I leave him -- if I'm leaving the shop or if he walks out the door -- I'll tell him I love him. I've just got to deal with it, and at the same time take care of business and that's running BHR on the race track and my dad off the race track. That's my dad, that's my old man, that's my friend, that's who I get all of my advice from, the only difference now is that he is battling a battle. We're all going to stick our necks out there and beat it. We're not going to beat it if one of us is hiding from it. We have to be behind him. Everybody does. We have to take care of business of running races. And when we've taken the checkered flag, we take care of business at home and that's making sure that he knows we're behind him and we're going to kick the cancer.

Q: Talk about the job Bobby Jr. is doing around the shop.

BH Sr.: It has been totally relieving to know that he's there. This has been the first week that I have really taken any time away from the shop, but I have three basic people I check in with. Bobby Jr. has been saturated with sponsor commitments. He's been doing a lot of stuff helping me out. There's just a difference now. I didn't hang around his Cup car because I didn't like the goofballs he was around. He goes in the shop and gets on top of things. Not only is he focusing on his race team, but he goes to the other race teams and talks to the other drivers. I don't know that I ever had a worry about that. I knew that he had the capability to. I just didn't know if at the age he's at if he was still saturated in trying to rebuild his career -- which he should be. Nothing would make me happier than Penske calling saying they were going to open another team and telling Bobby Jr. that they want him because he's a good qualifier and good racer. I would just work something out if that happened. You have to understand my point, I have total confidence in his driving. The bad part about our sport -- if Jimmie Johnson don't win another race until the next Talladega, 36 races from now, that's all you guys are going to write about. People forget the days when Bobby Jr. was in a car that had a $1.2 million budget, and he was outrunning cup regulars every single week and winning races all superspeedways and short track. He was outrunning Richard Childress Racing, Roush Racing, and things like that. It makes me feel good to know that he has stepped up to walk in and try to help me run my business, to take the load off of me and let me rest a little bit. Then to turn around and run Martinsville and was the only truck that wasn't destroyed. Then turn around and run Gateway -- and I don't know how he did this -- but I used his truck at a concert last night for a show truck. I unloaded it off the hauler, and there wasn't a scratch on it.

He's reaching out in all aspects trying to make whatever he can easy on the company. And he's been a great spokesperson because he knows that we (Dodge) have aero issues. He's been to the wind tunnel. He's heard the wind tunnel numbers. He talked to NASCAR about how far the Dodges were behind on a mile-and-a-half race track. He's just a great spokesperson, and I have never known him to have experience in that. He's doing everything he can to help me. And I told him on the phone yesterday that I appreciate very much what you are doing since you got in the truck. I told him that he has really stepped up and done a lot.

Q: Do you think that this will help boost Bobby Jr.'s career?

BH Sr.: It can't do nothing but help. Toyota is swinging a big stick right now. I wouldn't want to lose him to Toyota, but he is raising a granddaughter of mine and he is very young. NEXTEL Cup racing made it very possible for me to have everything that I have now, and it made it possible for him to have everything he has now. He just didn't get to ride it long enough. I would just love to see him do good in the trucks, and he's doing that. There's no question. I guarantee you...if NASCAR don't help Dodge on a mile and a half race track before Charlotte, every Dodge there unless the cautions fall a lot will finish a lap down. We are 97 counts off on drag, and at 150 mph, that's 97 horsepower -- it is one to one. We can't compete with that. But it's just Toyota's turn. If I was Toyota, and I spent $200 million designing a truck and I hadn't won a championship in three years and Dodge was winning it on $1.4 million a year, I would almost be embarrassed about it. But it's just their turn to win. They'll move on next year, and when they get to NEXTEL Cup and they have to race against Roush and Hendrick and the others, that will free us poor boys up to go do what we like to do again.

In hopes of Bobby Jr. being involved in some Cup effort, I would like to keep him in the Dodge camp. I think the biggest thing that is going to help Bobby Jr. is we have financial backing from Fastenal to run the Brickyard, and we have a couple of other deals to run our Cup car at a couple of other places. We have learned so much since last year that I think we'll make a solid effort in a Cup car. People will look and say, 'Nashville, Tennessee, truck team -- a Cup car.' I mean if he just runs right there with them somewhere like that James Finch car, which is some of the best races he has run in Cup. I know my deal is capable of that.

Q: Did you give much thought to stepping up or did you just do it because you knew your dad needed the help?

BH Jr.: As far as replacing dad when he was stepping out, I don't like using that word because I'm not replacing him. I'm the type of person where I hated outrunning him. If I did, it took away some of the enjoyment. At the same time, he asked me 'Do you want me to get someone else to do it.' And I said, 'Hell, no. I want to do it. I don't want anyone else driving your truck.' It was so scary to realize that I was taking all of this. In the big scheme of things, I knew this was my dad and I want to do all of this for him. I jumped in and never really thought about anything. I didn't want anyone else to do it. I thought I could do a 100 percent job for him, for the company, and I wasn't going to take a chance on letting anyone else do it. When it comes to career stuff, to use the example dad did, if Penske called, I would ask them if there was anyway I could do both -- the Cup deal and the truck because if they aren't combined weekend, I have a plane and I can do both. My priority is the Fastenal Dodge and BHR. If something else was to come up, we'd just have to look at it. Right now, all I have is to be 100 percent focused on my truck deal. If I can keep focused on that and running good, then BHR is around a whole lot longer. Sometimes it's scary to think about it -- that me as dumb as I am is having to do some of this stuff. But at the same time, I don't want anyone else doing it. When it's time to jump, I jump. It's for my Dad -- there wasn't even a question.

BH Sr.: I mean, look at it from my point of view. If you were an owner and something like this would have happened to you -- everybody's standing out there, who would you have picked? He was standing there with nothing at the time. It was a perfect fit to me. I've told him before...I caught him off guard and I caught my crew chief off guard. I sit on the back box at the races and I don't say anything. I'll just say stuff like 'I saw the leader do this down there in the corner.' I don't tell them set-up. If they ask, I'll tell them that I like things a certain way. I say 'I'll leave up to you all. I'll see you later.' I turn around and leave. I've even surprised myself. He races a lot like me right now because he is driving so smart because he knows he is at a disadvantage. He's logging points. I know he is capable. I tell him 'Treat it like its yours' because it is ultimately. And he'll be fine.

Q: Looking ahead to Texas, what do you think of your chances there?

BH Jr.: I've always run really, really well there. I've never been there in a truck. I about won the race in the Busch car. I led all day, and then at the very end I vapor-locked it and wound up finishing fifth. I love the race track. It's my type of race track. It's wide open all day long. I'm really looking forward to it in the truck. It almost reminds me of Atlanta where you can really be aggressive on the wheel and be wide open. It's a grippy race track. If we can get a little help from NASCAR with some of the Dodge stuff, there's no reason we can't go out there and win. I know we've talked about the Cup car there, and I would love that. We can run it wide open. The race track has a ton of grip, it's smooth and you can really, really be aggressive.

Q: How many Cup races do you plan on running?

BH Sr.: We definitely have the Brickyard. The rest of them, Bobby Jr. and I will make that choice as we go. We'll fit the tracks around him. We're not going to get in a hurry about anything. We're going to take our time with stuff. If we have a very good run at the Brickyard and come out of there pretty good shape financially, then we'll just roll that money right over into the next Cup race. We separate that money.

Q: How was the cancer diagnosed?

BH Sr.: Basically, I was racing last year and I had a wisdom tooth go bad. I had a lower wisdom tooth act up on the right side of my face and I have a huge nerve that runs around that part of my wisdom tooth. Because I was on camera, they didn't want to try to take it out because it might make my face drawl for a week or two. They put me on antibiotics and it was swollen up really bad. I went right after Thanksgiving and got my tooth pulled and everything cleaned up. The swelling in my face went down, but my neck didn't. The doctors thought it was just a swollen gland from infection. On February 7, I walked in the office and said this is not going down. I ended up in the hospital on Feb. 8 because I had to be in Daytona the next Tuesday. The doctors got in there and saw something they didn't like. They stitched me up from the inside where nobody could tell that anything had happened. We went to Daytona, and I raced until we got the results back. It was as simple as that. I knew it before anybody told me. I didn't even call Bobby Jr. because I thought I was getting a gland drained. They admitted me into the hospital that night just for recovery, and that's when I called Bobby Jr. and Stephanie down and told them about it. For us to be able to keep that quiet until Atlanta should win an award because you can't do anything in NASCAR without that.

It was just one of those deals. It just happened. It's a part of life. I don't like it, but it's going to make me a better person at the end. It's going to make me give back, and that's what we're trying to do with this 'Craftsman For a Cure' deal. I will always be involved in things like this if I can, and that's why I hope you guys will help us. I know we gave you a lot of information here off the subject of 'Craftsman For a Cure' but it's very important that we promote this as you write your stories. Make sure you put that in there because we certainly would like to have a big blow-out on this thing and be able to give back to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Victory Junction Gang Camp, and make it grow more and more each year.

Craftsman came to us with this event. We were so devastated with what happened to us that Craftsman came to us and said we would like to do this and partner with BHR. I never would have dreamed it up that fast by myself. All the people around us have made this happen.


Tickets are still available for the 'Craftsman For a Cure' charity event on Tuesday, May 23 at the NASCAR SpeedPark at Concord Mills. Call 1-866-227-3264 for tickets.

In addition to racing, eating dinner with drivers or getting autographs, there will also be a silent auction at the event featuring autographed driver uniforms from Bobby Hamilton (his 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship uniform and helmet), Mike Skinner, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. There will also be sheet metal, autographed die casts and miscellaneous items.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson