Martinsville Haven For Hamilton

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Top ten reasons why Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton should win the Martinsville (Va.) 500 this weekend.

10. Hamilton is healed after his shoulder and wrist injury in Richmond six weeks ago.
9. In the past 13 races at Martinsville, the 45-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native has logged five top-five finishes
8. He claims seven top-10 finishes on his record at the .526-mile oval
7. He qualified on the outside pole there this spring
6. He logged two pole positions in 1996 and 1998, the latter also won the race
5. In his first year with Andy Petree Racing, he led the most laps there before he claimed a top-five finish
4. Hamilton was in contention to win last fall before he tangled with Kevin Harvick
3. The team tested there last week, running over 540 laps, and was second fastest on the grid
2. Short track racing is Hamilton’s and crew chief Jimmy Elledge’s specialty
1. Why not? Everyone deserves a win at a place you run well time and time again!

Bobby, do you get sick of people pointing at you to win when we race at Martinsville?
“Well actually I guess it could be worse if people didn’t point at me at all. It’s nice to have a race track that we run at that people think I am capable to win on, but that doesn’t mean that I will. Everyone makes a prediction though. I’m not the only driver out there who runs well at Martinsville, so people point in a few different directions for this race. It’s a good thing that they look at me to be competitive.”

What do you think about the new corner grooves added to the surface at Martinsville?
“We tested there and ran 540 laps on the grooves. Some people liked it and some didn’t. I talked with Clay (Campbell, owner and president of Martinsville Speedway) and he showed me what all they did to the track. We walked out on the track and looked closely at it. And it looked to me like somebody took a straight edge and made it really jagged. We had just got it to where we could race two wide all the way around that track and now it seems like it gets loose in the top groove. If we have a lot of cautions and people stay two wide, it will keep the rubber from the tires spread out all over the race track. But if we stay on the bottom of the track to race, then we’ll have a huge amount of rubber built up on the top groove. Then it will be slick up there and you’ll see a lot of wrecks. We’re just going to have to keep it two wide and keep spreading that rubber around to keep the racing the way it used to be there.

“You have about one or two drivers out there who complain about how Martinsville is so slick. Then you have an owner like Clay who tries his best to fix it and to keep those few happy. After testing there I don’t know if they’ll be too happy or not, but we’ll soon find out.”

After racing in Charlotte last weekend, how did your shoulder and wrist feel?
“It was fine. I got out of the car feeling the same way I did when I got into it. I thought the wreck (on lap 229) might have jarred my shoulder a little, but when I got out of the car after the race, it felt great. It’s good to be back. I missed my guys and hanging around them.”

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