Hard-Charging Hamilton

Bobby Hamilton doesn’t have the championship reputation of Jeff Gordon or the crowd-pleasing driving style of Dale Earnhardt Jr. What he does have, however, is a gift for running well in restrictor-plate races. His last conquest on a superspeedway came at Talladega last April. He threatens to be a factor there again, and in each of the remaining plate events in 2002.

Hamilton displayed savvy driving and used a strong No. 55 Schneider Electric Chevrolet to its fullest advantage in the 2001 Talladega 500.

“I learned some stuff in the fall race in 2000 by watching Dale Earnhardt,” Hamilton says. “I used it a couple of times, and I thought, this is the cat’s meow now. Nobody else is doing it, so I’m going to put it in the glove compartment and wait until 15 laps to go.”
Things have been uneven for Hamilton since he won in 1991. His career best in the points chase was 14th in 1995.

In 2001, the 44-year-old was pleased to prove he could tame NASCAR’s most competitive track.

“I got pretty emotional in the racecar, but I was so damn tired I couldn’t even make tears come up,” Hamilton said. “And I said to myself, if I start crying I ain’t going to be able to talk, and I ain’t going to be able to stand up. I got out of the car and couldn’t stand up anyway, so I might as well have went ahead and cried.”