Hamilton Knows The Winston

Hamilton knows The Winston story Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (May 11, 1998) Bobby Hamilton has always taken The Winston, one of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing's most exciting events, at face value. It's a race where there are no friends, ...

Hamilton Knows The Winston

Hamilton knows The Winston story Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (May 11, 1998) Bobby Hamilton has always taken The Winston, one of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing's most exciting events, at face value. It's a race where there are no friends, just a dash for cash and bragging rights for another year.

"This ain't no kids' game," said Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet. "And that final 10-lap deal? It's every man for himself. You hardly even look to the sides of you, all you do is look straight ahead and go for the checkered flag.

"What's that deal they have in Spain? The running of the bulls? Well, the last 10 laps of The Winston makes that look like a little girl's tea party. It's a 20-car game of chicken."

And only the fastest and most aggressive make it to Victory Lane in the annual event, to be held Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in front of an anticipated crowd of more than 150,000 fans.

The rules have been altered slightly for this year's event. There will still be three segments, two each of 30 laps and then a final 10-lapper. Formerly, the 20-car field was inverted following the first segment, but under the new rules this year, a maximum of 12 cars and a minimum of three will exchange positions.

The determination will be made during the 10-minute break between the first and second segments.

"This is definitely a different race," Hamilton said. "It's a fan's race. I'm not sure how much strategy you can set up before the thing starts. It seems like the whole thing is a 'play it by ear' type deal.

"The way the rules are, there just isn't any way to figure it out. The first segment is 30 laps but, since they don't count caution laps, it could be 35 or 40 laps. The thing is, they're going to invert after that, but they're not going to tell you how many. You know if you are last, you are still going to be last after the inversion, but that's about it. How do you approach it? Just go as hard as you can and do whatever you can to win the segment. You do the same thing the second segment."

Hamilton made his only appearance in The Winston last year, when he started 13th and finished 20th due to engine problems. He's eligible again this year due to his victories at Rockingham last fall and Martinsville earlier this season.

The final 10-lap shootout of The Winston has produced some of the more thrilling moments in NASCAR history.

"The last 10 laps of The Winston are what stock car racing is all about," Hamilton said. "It's something you won't find anywhere else in any other sport. You figure nobody in the grandstands is going to be sitting down, and pit wall is going to be mobbed with crews standing on it, watching. It's one of the few times when you can hear the crowd over the engines.

"I guess in some other sports you can tell something big is going on by how loud the crowd is. Normally you can't do that in NASCAR racing, but at The Winston, a lot of times you can."

Qualifying for The Winston will take place on Friday night. The No Bull 25s, two qualifying races for the Winston Open, will also be held on Friday night. The Winston Open and The Winston are slated for Saturday night under the lights at Charlotte.

Source: NASCAR Online

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