Hamilton dominates Goody's 500 By Shawn A. Akers MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 20, 1998) In recent years, Bobby Hamilton has toyed with winning at Martinsville Speedway. On Monday, Hamilton toyed with the competition. The driver of the No....
Hamilton dominates Goody's 500 By Shawn A. Akers
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 20, 1998) In recent years, Bobby Hamilton has toyed with winning at Martinsville Speedway. On Monday, Hamilton toyed with the competition.
The driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet dominated the Goody's Headache Powder 500, leading eight times for a total of 378 laps on the way to his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory of the 1998 season. Hamilton crossed the finish line 6.376 seconds ahead of Ted Musgrave to record his first victory with his new team and the third of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career.
"We were good. We were real good," said Hamilton, who hasn't finished worse than third in his last four races at Martinsville. "I never run good here until I drove the 43 car. They built a car specifically for this race track. It goes right back to having good equipment."
And Hamilton certainly had the best car on the race track on Monday. Several times he lost the lead in the pits, and each time the Bud Pole winner brought the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet back to the front.
On a restart on lap 400 following the 14th and final caution flag of the afternoon, Hamilton was 10th after a bad pit stop. By lap 412 he had moved his way to seventh place, and then, one-by-one, picked off the cars in front of him. He passed Jeff Gordon to move into fifth, then Randy LaJoie, Ken Schrader and Dale Jarrett.
Hamilton finally took the lead for good on lap 438, snagging the point away from John Andretti, the driver of Hamilton's former ride.
"I knew that when we started (at the last restart) and we got up to about fifth place behind the 24 car, I felt like then I had a good shot," Hamilton said. "I backed up then and started taking my time from then on out. The main thing, the reason I was trying to get up through there as quick as I was, I was trying to get away from the lapped cars. I'd rather race those guys on the lead lap. We just sort of jumped from 10th to fifth or sixth or whatever it was and took our time and went on."
Once Hamilton regained the lead, he was never seriously challenged. Andretti tried to keep pace with Hamilton in the 50 laps, but couldn't keep the leader within striking distance. Andretti appeared on his way to a second-place finish, but ran out of gas with six laps to go. He eventually finished 18th.
"I think Nancy (Andretti's wife) will hide the razor blades, the knives and the guns, that's for sure," Andretti said. "It's disappointing, but what's great about being with this team is that you take the good with the bad. We've had a lot of things happen to us this year that are totally out of our control.
"There was no concern with our gas mileage. They figured we'd be close, and then all the yellows came out, and then it just went. It didn't seem like it would be a big deal."
More than anyone, Hamilton was keeping a close eye out in the rearview mirror for Rusty Rusty Wallace. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford is a six-time winner at Martinsville Speedway and started Monday's race from the second position.
"Nobody is better than Rusty Wallace at this place," Hamilton said. "His car was off today, and he wasn't as good as we were. You can say you're good here, but you've got to have the equipment, and I had a good car today. I knew at the start of the race when I passed them guys on the outside that we had a horse. Most of the time when you have a car that will go good on the outside here, it will go good in the corners."
Wallace wound up finishing sixth, the last car on the lead lap, and extended his NASCAR Winston Cup Series points lead to 33 over Penske-Kranefuss teammate Jeremy Mayfield, who finished seventh, the first car to be one lap down.
Dale Jarrett quietly but methodically, worked his way to a third-place showing, followed by Dale Earnhardt and Randy LaJoie, who recorded his best finish in the No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet in his substitute role for the injured Ricky Craven. Earnhardt started Monday's race from the 31st position and actually led twice for 33 laps.
Jeff Gordon finished eighth, Ernie Irvan ninth and Ken Schrader 10th. Jeff Burton, winner of last fall's Hanes 500 at Martinsville, finished four laps down in 28th after getting involved in a couple of accidents.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series now heads from the shortest track on the circuit to the longest, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, for next Sunday's DieHard 500.
Source: NASCAR Online