Petree Hamilton Address Rumors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR’s silly season is in full force. The rumors are flying, and teams, car owners and drivers are waiting to see who’s going where next. Car owner Andy Petree has found that his team is in the middle of the rumor mill, but he’s not letting it distract him from his main focus this year – the Schneider Electric Racing team. You’ll find Petree standing on top of the hauler clocking lap times or listening in on the radio and offering his advice to Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge. Or you’ll see him talking with driver Bobby Hamilton about setups on the No. 55 Chevrolet. Together the team is working on turning the program around.

In the past two weeks the trio has had some strong performances – a Top 10 in Dover and 12th in Pocono until the engine expired. Despite the rumor mill, the team is trying to work its way back up the charts. And they have been steadily doing so. With Elledge placing strong setups on the cars, and Petree continuing to back the program, it gives Hamilton room to breathe. This weekend’s Sirius Satellite Radio 400 is another opportunity for the team to show what means the most to them – a victory.

Andy, can you put all of the rumors to rest? How does it effect the No. 55 team?

“It’s a deal that is going on behind closed doors. It’s in the negotiating stages and there are some things in there that people have no business knowing about right now. It’s not the right time to tell my team anything, much less tell the media that surround us week in and week out. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion and it’s been the focus of what people want to talk to us about. The media are a great avenue for us to get promotions out there about our team. But at the same time, they can also hurt a negotiation by making up things and printing it. People see it, get offended and think I am trying to hide things from them. I am not trying to hide anything about the whole deal, it just isn’t time to talk about things that are not complete.

“I would love for the media to come in and ask us about this Schneider Electric Chevy all they want. Right now we have goals for this No. 55 car and we are working on making them happen.”

Bobby, how do the rumors about APR affect you as the driver?

“It doesn’t change what is going on with me in that race car. Once you are strapped in that seat, your only focus as a driver is how that car runs on that track. The only thing that your team is worried about is how to make that car go faster.

“Now behind the scenes people might wonder what is going on and that is the problem that impacts a team. Everything might not be true that was said the first time, so by the time it gets to the third or fourth person it is a totally different story. The main thing is you have to stay focused on running well where you are at the time. It only benefits your career to try as hard as you can.”

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