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This Week in Ford Racing: Bobby Hamilton Jr.

Bobby Hamilton Jr.
Bobby Hamilton Jr.
 
March 11, 2008 - Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the No. 25 Smithfield Ford Fusion, returns to his home state of Tennessee for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamilton Jr. will make his sixth appearance at Bristol in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and talks about how the concrete track and banking improves racing for drivers and fans.

BOBBY HAMILTON JR. Ė No. 25 Smithfield Ford Fusion Ė THIS IS THE FIRST SHORT TRACK RACE OF THE SEASON. TALK ABOUT RACING AT BRISTOL. ďBristol is a short track and thatís why it stays sold out like it does as far as the fans. But as far as the cars and crew members, crew chiefs and drivers, it drives you crazy because itís so fast, itís so finicky, itís concrete and itís so forgiving that you can get away with so much. You can beat and bang with people and at the same time you can miss the chassis by two- or three-tenths and be five laps down there. Compared to going somewhere else and be off a little bit and only be one lap down. Iíve been on the good side of it where the car is driving so good it is so easy to pass people at ease without touching anybody. You can come home with a fifth- or second-place finish without a scratch on your car or you come with the fenders tore off of it and the nose knocked off and finish 23rd. Itís one of those places that itís a love-hate. One race you love it, and the next race you hate it or that year you loved it. Itís a hard little short track, but if your car is right, itís probably one of the funnest places we go.Ē

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AT BRISTOL? ďI donít know. Iíve never won there (laughs). Evidently, I havenít found it. Iíve run second, third and places like that. Itís just one of those race tracks that itís rhythm but at the same time if you can get it in your rhythm and get away from the group and stay ahead of the race track as far as adjustments, youíre going to be hard to beat. If you can get a good qualifying run, have good pit stops, youíre going to be hard to beat. If youíve got to be in the back, in the traffic for any amount of time, thatís where a good spotter comes in keeping you calmed down. The crew chief is making the right adjustments. The driver is making the right adjustments and explaining the car to the crew chief. It takes all of us. When you find that, thatís why so many people, like Darrell [Waltrip] and Kurt Busch and those guys, when they hit on those four, five in a row or Jeff Gordon and those guys, they find what it takes and then it just hits. Then all of a sudden, you canít do anything wrong there. Getting to that point is what takes so long.Ē

HOW DOES THE RE-PAVING AFFECT THE NATIONWIDE CARS? ďI think what theyíve done, as far as adding a banking to it for the last race we were there, that is probably the one of the best places that we go to. For instance, a lot of the races we go to, they need to take a lesson from Bristol and make it where itís race friendly. If itís race friendly the fans are going to get a good show out of it. You can come from the back, you can pass, and you donít have to be on the bottom. You can use the whole race track. Goodyear brought a good tire for that race track. The last time we were there, every driver there applauded it 100 percent, the way theyíve done that race track. Itís going to be even better, now I think because they took 100 horsepower away from us with this little plate on the Nationwide cars. It ought to be some good racing.Ē

WILL WE SEE TIGHTER AND MORE COMPETITIVE RACING AT BRISTOL? ďI think so. I think youíll see tighter packs and harder to pass, which presents more beating and banging, which is what fans love. At the same time, less horsepower and the body is the same, which gets to where you can drive them really, really hard. So you can really put on a good show for the fans and bring them back for years to come.Ē

DOES THE BANKING MAKE RACING FASTER. ďYes, because you can drive the car really, really hard because the banking there holds you. You can get in the corner hard, for instance, the car has so much grip there with the concrete and the way the tires are and you have the banking to forgive any mistakes you make. Thatís why places like Atlanta and Texas we all love because you can drive your race car really hard. If we can drive it really hard it presents really good racing. All of a sudden, thatís when the fans like it more and TV is better. If you took half that banking away, it wouldnít be as fast and wouldnít be as fun. Bristol is one of those places you could try to reproduce it, but there will only be one Bristol.Ē

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