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The Callahan Report: Bobby Hamilton Continues "Hot Streak"

1 November 1997

PHOENIX, AZ: Talk about being on a roll. Bobby Hamilton won the his first race of the year last weekend at Rockingham. He followed that up today with a pole position qualifying effort for the Dura Lube 500 NASCAR event to be held this Sunday. Hamilton set a new track record on the one mile oval with a speed of 131.579 mph.

[ Bobby Hamilton ]Bobby Hamilton

Hamilton won his first ever NASCAR event one year ago at this spectacular facility in the Southwest. He is looking to make it two in a row for car owner Richard Petty in the familiar Number 43 STP Pontiac.

Hamilton commented on his run "We unloaded and it was the fastest thing here. We changed the sway bar and didn't like that. Then we changed the springs and didn't like that. We changed the camber and that was OK. Except for the camber, we went back to the same way it came off the truck." Hamilton concluded, "And that qualifying motor is the race motor. We won't even have to change that."

Hamilton has been fast at other times this year. Today's pole run was the second of the year. It was the fourth pole capturing run of Hamilton's career.

Hamilton talked about the teams success, saying "We weeded through a lot of stuff at the middle of the year and changed a lot of stuff we didn't like. We've been in contention to win at least six races this year. We've cut tires and had other things go wrong, but we've had a good year. It just doesn't show on paper." The STP driver added, "We've had some terrible races, too, but so has everybody else except maybe two or three teams. When we've got the car like I like it, we usually qualify good and race good."

[ Jimmy Spencer ]Jimmy Spencer

The Ford Thunderbird of Jimmy Spencer owns the second spot. He will start along side Hamilton after posting his best qualifying run of the season. Spencer qualified the Camel car at a speed of 130.933.

Another Ford owns the third spot. Rusty Wallace is beginning to solve the mystery of his up and down season. He qualified his Miller Lite T-Bird at 130.596 mph. Another Pontiac will start beside Wallace. Bobby Labonte captured the fourth starting spot with a run of 130.279. Labonte sat on the pole at Phoenix last year.

The Winston cup championship remains close. The three drivers involved in the hunt are Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Dale Jarrett. If qualifying at Phoenix is any indication, the points chase will remain tight all the way through to the checkered flag at Atlanta (the last race of the season). Gordon qualified 12th, Martin will start 14th and Jarrett qualified his Ford in the 9th spot.

[ Darrell Waltrip ]Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip is resting easier this weekend. He had to use a past champions provisional to make the last Race at Rockingham. He was also slow at Charlotte and missed the race there. Waltrip qualified in the top twenty five at Phoenix. He can concentrate on his race set up as slower cars will attempt to qualify tomorrow.

Waltrip commented, "I haven't run a bad lap all day. I think this car's going to race good. I love it when it's hot out."

The top twenty-five qualifiers with (car number), driver, hometown,
car, and qualifying speed:

 1. (43) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Pontiac, 131.579
 2. (23) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Ford, 130.933
 3. (2) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 130.596
 4. (18) Bobby Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Pontiac, 130.279
 5. (75) Rick Mast, Rockbridge Baths, Va., Ford, 130.213
 6. (33) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 130.194
 7. (3) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet, 130.147
 8. (30) Johnny Benson Jr., Grand Rapids, Mich., Pontiac, 130.039
 9. (88) Dale Jarrett, Hickory, N.C., Ford, 130.020
10. (9) Lake Speed, Jackson, Miss., Ford, 130.011
11. (27) Kenny Irwin Jr., Indianapolis, Ford, 129.940
12. (24) Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet, 129.898
13. (90) Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Ford, 129.889
14. (6) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 129.706
15. (11) Brett Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 129.697
16. (36) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Pontiac, 129.660
17. (7) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 129.650
18. (42) Joe Nemechek, Lakeland, Fla., Chevrolet, 129.566
19. (17) Darrell Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 129.548
20. (41) Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala., Chevrolet, 129.543
21. (81) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 129.543
22. (37) Jeremy Mayfield, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 129.501
23. (16) Ted Musgrave, Franklin, Wis., Ford, 129.487
24. (77) Robert Pressley, Asheboro, N.C., Ford, 129.403
25. (28) Ernie Irvan, Salinas, Calif., Ford, 129.399

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel

Editor's Note: Images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in the The Nascar Image Gallery from The Callahan Racing Page.