Larry McClure knows a good race car when he sees it, and he saw one Sunday at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The co-owner and team manager of the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Racing Team said ...
Larry McClure knows a good race car when he sees it, and he saw one Sunday at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The co-owner and team manager of the No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Racing Team said his driver, Bobby Hamilton, had the car to beat in the Dura-Lube/Big K-mart 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race. Hamilton started 16th, lost a lap in the pits and then fought his way back to the top five before a broken power steering fitting relegated him to a ninth-place finish in the second race of the '99 campaign. "We had the best car and finished ninth with it," McClure said. "That's not a bad deal. I'll be the first to admit we're in a rebuilding stage. We went south the past two years, and I realize the deficiencies on this team. " Now we've got everything working pretty good except in the pits. We had some pit problems Sunday at Rockingham. I've got to determine if the people who messed up Sunday are capable of getting better, but one way or the other, we're going to correct that problem, too." Hamilton, a 41-year-old driver from Nashville, Tenn., won the 1997 fall race at Rockingham. One of the smoothest drivers on the circuit, Hamilton realized his No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevy was faster than the leader most of the afternoon. "If we could have ever got up front, we would have been real good," Hamilton said. "We had to fight that lapped traffic, but it was a good car. We won't change anything when we come back. The motor was excellent, and I'm really looking forward to this year. The guys have turned it all around." McClure saw plenty of positive things Sunday, but he's not satisfied with the performance of his pit crew. "We put Bobby down in the pits, but he kept digging," McClure said. "Then the power steering fitting broke with about 40 laps to go, and he was a dead duck in the water. He kept racing though and ended up ninth instead of 10th. "It was Gary DeHart's first time in charge in the pits on race day. Everything went smooth with Gary. Nothing jumped out at us. The pit crew is going to be our biggest hurdle. We knew that at Daytona. We've got two brand new people on the pit crew, and we're going to stay on top of it. We're practicing every day if we're not testing, and the new guys are going to practice twice a day, every day. "On the positive side, it was the most consistent our tires had been in a long time, and that's a very positive thing at Rockingham. The car was fast, the engine was strong, Gary did a good job running the show, and Bobby did a great job driving the car. The negative things were the pit crew and the power steering breaking." The Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc., team will test at Darlington on Thursday and Friday. With 14 Chevys ready to race, the team continues to build new cars. DeHart, a veteran chassis specialist, wants to build all the Chevys as similar as possible, and McClure agrees with his Race Team Coordinator. "We know what needs to happen with this team, and we're in a hurry go get there," McClure said. "Honestly, I don't think we can win the championship this year, but I think we can win some races. I think that 3 bunch (Dale Earnhardt's team) could have won with our car and our driver at Rockingham.
"We're just that far off in the pits right now. It's hard to attract people for our pit crew because we're off the beaten path. At the same time, when we get 'em and train 'em, we know they're going to be here (Abingdon, Va.) for a long time. "We're rebuilding, but we've got the nucleus in place. I feel as good about this team at this stage of the season as I have in a long time, and I've won a couple of Daytona 500s. When Ernie Irvan drove for us (90-93), we were where we needed to be with the team. That's harder to do now. It's a lot more competitive these days, but still, three cars win most of the races. If you can beat the 24, 88 and 6, you're going to whip some people. You should be good enough to win if you can beat those three, and we were that good at Rockingham. It just didn't happen, and you can't let those kind of races get away. "We're going to do whatever it takes to make sure we get where we need to be. Finishing in the top five in the points is our goal this year. Whether we win or lose, we want to get better. We need to blossom and bloom, but there's no place for egos on this team. This is all about teamwork, and that's what we want here. That's what we're going to have, too, because it's tough to make it work otherwise."
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