PHOENIX, Tuesday, March 14, 2000 - Davey Hamilton deserves to wear the Indy Racing Northern Light Series "iron man" badge, for more reasons than one. Hamilton, of Las Vegas, holds the record for most career Northern Light Series starts,...
PHOENIX, Tuesday, March 14, 2000 - Davey Hamilton deserves to wear the Indy Racing Northern Light Series "iron man" badge, for more reasons than one.
Hamilton, of Las Vegas, holds the record for most career Northern Light Series starts, competing in all 35 events since the series' debut in 1996. And although he has not won a series race, Hamilton has claimed second place in the series championship twice (1997 and 1998) and has three second-place finishes and 13 career top-five and 22 top-ten finishes.
But Hamilton, 37, more so deserves the "iron man" tag for his strong will and perseverance off the track because his impressive results have not come easy. For reasons largely out of his control, he has driven for five teams during his Indy Racing career.
Those days of frustration have hopefully come to an end for Hamilton, who recently signed to race for the rest of the year with TeamXtreme starting with the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 on March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway.
"I think it's great that I've competed in all (the races)," said Hamilton, who claimed eight championships in various western United States supermodified series between 1987 and 1993. "I'm proud of that, but there's better ways to go about it, like being on the same team. It's been a character builder. I've been with quite a few teams, and hopefully I have a home now. That's my goal, because to be successful you need to stick with a team and sponsors.
"I want to be in a lot more races, but I want to have a championship and Indianapolis 500 win to go with them, and I think with this team it can be done."
Hamilton's Indy Racing career began with the Northern Light Series' first season in 1996, with the team owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Hamilton drove for Foyt in 1997 as well, then moved to the Nienhouse Motorsports team in 1998.
Long-time open-wheel team owner Rick Galles operated that team, and Hamilton stuck with Galles when Galles re-formed his team in 1999.
Hamilton raced in the 2000 season opener with the Sinden Racing Service team, and is now ready to complete the rest of the year with TeamXtreme in the #16 Lycos G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
TeamXtreme, based in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, Texas, also fields a car for rookie driver Airton Dare.
Hamilton said two factors influenced his decision to join TeamXtreme. The first was John King, who will serve as his chief mechanic. Hamilton and King had success when they worked together in 1997 on Foyt's team, finishing second in the season points. The second was the team itself.
"The team is going about things in the right way to win championships, not to just be part of the series," he said.
Hamilton has yet to test with TeamXtreme.
But the timing could not be better for a difficult situation such as this, because Hamilton has enjoyed a great deal of success at Phoenix and knows the track inside out.
"Although I'm from Vegas, Phoenix is without a doubt my home track just because of all the miles in different types of race cars I have there," said Hamilton. "I'm happy our first race is there since we haven't had any testing together because I feel confident I know how to get around the racetrack. I know all those little secrets about Phoenix, so I think that will help."
Hamilton has several wins and poles in supermodified and USAC MCI WorldCom National Midget Series and Coors Light Silver Bullet Series events at Phoenix, which have came primarily at the annual multi-race Copper World Classic.
But Hamilton doesn't deny that the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 weekend will be a challenging one because the team isn't that familiar with the driver yet, and vice versa.
"Any time you go into a new program, you have to learn the guys and their system," he said. "And they have to learn about me and how I like the car. It will take awhile, but after Phoenix we have a nice testing schedule set up, and we can get right on track.
"I'm not too worried about it now because John (King) knows me. It's just a matter of working with (team engineer) Mark Weida. I haven't worked with him before, but he's had great success as an engineer, and I look forward to working with him."
MCI WORLDCOM INDY 200 NOTEBOOK
Schedule: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 starts at 2 p.m. (MST) March 19. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 10:45 a.m. March 18. Practice sessions start at 10:45 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. (MST) March 17, 8:15 a.m. March 18 and 9:15 a.m. March 19.
On the air: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) March 19. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 11 a.m. March 19 on ESPN2.
ESPN2 will televise pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 18.
The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 19, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. IRRN will broadcast a qualifying show at 4 p.m. March 18. The area IRRN affiliate is KMVP-AM 860.
The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
Tickets: Tickets for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 are available by calling (602) 252-2227.
Autograph party: Many Indy Racing drivers will participate in the "Indy & NASCAR Speedfest Drivers Party" March 16 at the Arizona Center in Phoenix.
Indy Racing cars will be on display from 3-8 p.m., and drivers will sign free autographs from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The fun, family-oriented event will include prizes, contests and live remotes by area television and radio stations.