Hamilton Hires New Crew Chief

Bobby Hamilton got an early Christmas present this week with the hiring of Charley Pressley as his crew chief.

Pressley replaces Jimmy Elledge, who left Andy Petree Racing to take over crew chief duties for Dale Jarrett’s team.

Pressley and Hamilton have worked together in the past at Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

“We don’t have to get used to each other,” Pressley said. “We already know each other’s mannerisms, which is a plus. I know how to read Bobby, and he knows how to read me. There is no learning curve there. I feel like I already know what he’s looking for in the feel of the car. That should really speed up things.”

Pressley, the older brother for former Winston Cup driver Robert Pressley, has worked for several teams and drivers. His father, Bob, was a standout short-track driver in the south for many years.

Charley Pressley said Hamilton reminds him of his dad.

“We keep each other calm,” Pressley said. “We know each other, and we’re so comfortable with each other. There is rarely any friction between us. I admire Bobby’s abilities, and in Bobby I see a lot of my hero, who is my dad. I have the utmost respect for him. It’s really easy to work for somebody like that.”

Pressley got his start as a crew chief with Harry Gant in 1994. Robert Pressley replaced Gant for 1995, but Charley Pressley left to join Larry Hedrick Motorsports and driver Ricky Craven in 1996. In 1998, Pressley moved to Morgan-McClure but left soon in 1999. He most recently was team manager for the now-defunct Midwest Transit team.

Pressley joined APR on Tuesday.

“At this point I am still trying to get acclimated to everyone and the way the previous system here worked,” Pressley said. “I’m think I’m pretty good at adapting to the environment I’m in because I’m not the type of person who says ‘This is Charley Pressley’s way and this is the only way to do it.’ For me that would be like shutting everyone’s minds down and not learning anything.”

Hamilton finished 18th in the 2001 Winston Cup point standings, winning the Talladega 500 and posting six other top-10 finishes.

“At this point my expectations are to do as well or better than they did last year,” Pressley said. “I can’t find a reason why we shouldn’t, because the key elements are still here – the facility, the personnel and the driver. There is no reason that we can’t succeed.

“I’ve only been here a week, but so far I don’t see any weaknesses in the program. As far as what’s missing or what we’ve lost, I haven’t found anything yet. 2002 will be a great season with this team and now we are building toward that future.”

Petree likely will field only one team in 2002, as the No. 33 Chevy formerly driven by Joe Nemechek is without sponsorship. Mike Wallace is slated to drive the car in the Daytona 500, but if no funding is found, the team may be shut down.

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