Heeee'ssss Baaaccckkk! After five weekends off because of a shoulder and wrist injury, Schneider Electric driver Bobby Hamilton is back in black for this weekend's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Yes folks, Hamilton has the green light from his doctors that he is ready to compete in the No. 55 Chevrolet.

During the past five weeks, the 45-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native has been to numerous physical therapy visits to rehabilitate his shoulder and wrist. But that isn't the only thing the Schneider Electric driver has been doing during the break.

He's tested his new shoulder and wrist device, designed by his doctors to help prevent reinjury, at three race tracks (Nashville, Greenville-Pickens, S.C., and Martinsville, Va.). Hamilton and his Schneider Electric Racing team are currently in Martinsville, preparing for their race in two weeks. And the team is giving Hamilton an endurance test for this weekend's race in Charlotte, N.C.

The unexpected break has taught the driver the importance of staying healthy and safe.

Q:
Bobby, what has this experience taught you about safety in racing?

Bobby Hamilton:
I found out first hand in Richmond (Va.) that NASCAR's doctors are on top of their game. They kept me comfortable the whole time I was getting checked out in the hospital. And they've continued to check on me every week since then. If it weren't for them, then I wouldn't have gotten to see the doctors that I did in Nashville or had the service that I did every time I went. When I told John Darby and Kevin Triplett (of NASCAR) how much I appreciated the service, they told me, 'It's something we don't want people to know a whole lot about, but when they do, we hope that their experience is positive.' And mine was.

It's a scary thing driving these race cars now because of the speed, getting hurt and the other factors that are involved. NASCAR is doing its part to make everything safer and tracks are looking into their options to update their safety programs as well. But these days it's hard to talk about being hurt because you might get passed over for rides for various reasons. There are several race car drivers with a lot of talent who have been pushed aside because of an injury. And nobody wants that to happen, especially at this 'silly season' point in the year.

Q:
What do you think about the younger generation taking over the Winston Cup Series garage area?

BH:
This sport is growing fast and the garage area is looking younger every time a new ride opens up. I don't know if that's the real answer or not because a lot of the older generation drivers out there can still win races. It just comes down to who a sponsor wants to represent it in front of the public. A lot of sponsors want to build a program and are looking for a young gun to take them through the next three years, but some sponsors want a veteran driver. If they pick the latter, they don't have to go through a learning curve on the race track and it might save them some torn up cars and missed races. But there comes a time in a veteran's career that he must retire. We all have to one day. But I'm not ready yet and won't be for a few more years. I want to win a race this year and still think I am capable of doing it. So now that I'm healed up, it's time to race.