Auburn Hills, Mich. (November 16, 2001) - Dodge Motorsports and Bobby Hamilton Racing today announced that Bill Lester will join the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers' title-winning Dodge factory racing program for the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Lester will drive the No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram 1500 for Bobby Hamilton Racing. Lester was selected from a number of experienced candidates. The Oakland, Calif. native tested with the Hamilton team and competed in five races in Hamilton's No. 4 Dodge Ram during the 2001 NCTS season.
BOBBY HAMILTON (Owner No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram Truck)
"Bill Lester is going to be our new truck driver. He's tested for us fast this year, and he kicked our butt real bad in a go-kart race last night. If he beats me in the trucks, he gets a raise. How many times can he beat me? He'll get a raise every time he beats me. I don't want to slam Willy T. because he did a good job at Daytona and some of the bigger tracks. He struggled on some of the smaller tracks. That's where we're seeing Bill shine. He's real versatile on all types of tracks. He gives good feedback. I've changed some people around to make it a better comfort zone for him."
BILL LESTER (No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram Truck)
"I hope to help Dodge share in the manufacturers championship again next year. I'm going to do my best to fight for the championship and rookie of the year. I can't wait to go testing. I just beat the boss in karts.
"I'm ready to go now. I'm going to be back here next Wednesday, and he's going to shake a truck or two down at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team has embraced me. It's been a very, very warm environment there. I went to Mount Juliet, Tenn., where Bobby Hamilton Racing is and gone to lunch with the guys and played football with them and such. They know me pretty well, and we're going to get to know each other better as the season goes along. They're excited about me coming on, almost as excited as I am about going there.
"I haven't driven on a track faster than Atlanta Motor Speedway when I tested, and I haven't raced on a track faster than the Nashville track when I raced there earlier this year, 1.5 miles. I haven't been on anything bigger than that. I've been on a bull ring. I went to South Boston and that's four-tenths of a mile. I heard they don't get smaller than that. My biggest adjustment will be the superspeedways, but as soon as we have a truck that's ready to go, we'll be testing at Talladega and I'll get a sense for the bigger tracks. Hopefully Bobby and Joe and whoever else is going to be part of the team can play some drafting games. I think that's where my biggest learning curve will be.
"I've been ready for a number of years, and now it's all come together. I'm 40. I hate admitting it, but I'm young at heart. The enthusiasm is boiling over, and I'm ready to go. I stay young at heart, and my wife has kept me young. She keeps me happy, and that keeps me young. I'm glad I've been blessed with the opportunity to do this. The opportunity she gave me to pursue this 100 percent. I was working at corporate America. I was a project manager for Hewlett Packard computer company in California. She supported my desire to make a career change, and that's why we moved from California to Atlanta. I've been able to pursue my racing, and that's why I'm at where I'm at now.
"If I can learn half of what Bobby Hamilton has forgotten about racing, I'm going to be better off. I know he's going to teach me some things that will blow me away. He's a driver as well as an owner, so he can appreciate everything I'm going through."
"This is simply a dream come true. I've wanted to be a full-time professional racing driver for a long time and I've worked hard for a lot of years for just this kind of opportunity. My wife and I have made many sacrifices in pursuit of my goal and I am pleased to reward both her support and belief in me. I look forward to driving the No. 8 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Dodge Ram for Bobby Hamilton Racing, and I hope to do both Dodge and Bobby Hamilton proud.
"I could not ask to be a part of a better racing team than Bobby Hamilton Racing. They already feel like my second family. I get along great with everybody, and I feel right at home there. I know that I am joining a very accomplished and successful team and would like nothing more than to bring a greater level of accomplishment and pride to this organization by winning Rookie of the Year honors and vying for the NCTS Championship, while helping Dodge defend its 2001 Manufacturer of the Year title."
Bobby Hamilton Racing, with three wins and a third-place finish in the standings, outperformed most NCTS teams this year, but sees the full-time addition of Lester as an opportunity to further enhance his team's competitiveness in 2002.
"I'm looking forward to next year," said Bobby Hamilton, owner, Bobby Hamilton Racing. "Lester will be a great addition to the Dodge one-team family. He will be a great spokes person for Dodge and their dealers across the country. After a lot of testing over the last year, I feel like Lester has both on-track talent and off track presence. That can help him be a successful addition to not only this team, but the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series."