Bobby Hamilton quickest in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks; NASCAR Preseason Thunder rolls on at Daytona. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2003) -- Bobby Hamilton, whose trucks have won the last two editions of the Florida Dodge Dealers 250, posted ...
Bobby Hamilton quickest in NASCAR Craftsman Trucks; NASCAR Preseason Thunder rolls on at Daytona.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2003) -- Bobby Hamilton, whose trucks have won the last two editions of the Florida Dodge Dealers 250, posted the fastest lap as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series took center stage in NASCAR Preseason Thunder Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge), paced both "regular" sessions of the test, his quick speed of 182.419 mph recorded in the morning round. There also was a one-hour "drafting" session during which trucks were permitted to run in packs if they desired.
The former NASCAR Winston Cup Series star will kick off his first full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Feb. 14 when the circuit's ninth campaign gets underway at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Hamilton owns three teams on the series -- including the No. 18 Dickies Ram that carried Robert Pressley to victory at Daytona in 2002 and Joe Ruttman to victory circle the previous year.
The defending winner -- this time with Chad Chaffin at the wheel -- posted the day's third fastest speed (182.054) while sophomore Bill Lester (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge) gave Bobby Hamilton Racing bragging rights to three of the top four speeds at 181.906.
Only Jason Leffler (No. 2 Team ASE Racing/Carquest Dodge) was able to crack the Mt. Juliet, Tenn.-based Hamilton team's order. Leffler was second fastest overall at 182.338 as Dodge trucks claimed the top six practice spots.
Hamilton takes over the truck that finished third here a year ago.
"They say the third time is the charm," said Hamilton. "I'm looking for another win for BHR. We've done it with different drivers so the equipment is good. Not only is this the Super Bowl for NASCAR Winston Cup racing (the Daytona 500) but it is for the trucks, too."
In stepping back from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Hamilton has served notice he hopes to win a title that to date has eluded him on the national stage.
"Dodge has been in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since the very start (and) they've won a manufacturer championship once and never won a driver championship," he said. "Me being a factory-backed owner, I thought it was just good for the company if I was going to come back and just focus my time on trying to win a championship and try to bring my other teams up to the next level, too."
Preseason Thunder continues Sunday at DIS, with the second of three test days for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The NASCAR Winston Cup teams return Jan. 14-16, with the second round reserved for teams with owners who had even-numbered finishes in the 2002 owners points. This week's three-day test run was for the "odds".
NEWS OF NOTE
* Crafton quick in the draft ... Only two drivers, Matt Crafton and Rick Crawford, took advantage of a one hour drafting session on Saturday. Crafton (No. 88 Menards/Colorpave Chevrolet) was quickest at 184.324 mph.
* Good Daytona could advance Crawford ... Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Park Ford) finished second to Mike Bliss in last year's championship, losing the NASCAR Craftsman Truck crown by just 46 points. Crawford's 24th-place finish in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 accounted for at least part of the deficit. "I think it's Rick Crawford's year to win some races," said Crawford, winless since his only victory in early 1998. "We've got some unfinished business in that department and we'll do what we can to win the championship."
* Bud Pole fine but Musgrave likes victory better ... Ted Musgrave sat on the Bud Pole at Daytona a year ago (187.215) and finished just .113 of a second behind Florida Dodge Dealers 250 winner Pressley. "We've kind of changed the program and put a little more downforce on the truck and slowed it down a little bit and so we're concentrating more on the race," he said.
* Kvapil in first outing in Xpress championship truck ... 2001 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Travis Kvapil will see if he can duplicate Bliss's title success as he sat for the first time behind the wheel of the No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet. This is Kvapil's third trip to Daytona -- and he's definitely looking for better than how he finished (20th) a year ago. "Daytona is a track where drafting experience can be beneficial," said Kvapil, hopeful that he's accumulated some knowledge in that area. "It has showed itself in the last two years ... veteran drivers winning who've got a lot of experience to rely on and a lot of knowledge of how to get around one of these places with the air and the draft playing such a big role."
* Etc...The Daytona International Speedway has an online media center available. The Speedway's online media center is your best source for Speedweeks testing and events, photos, timing and scoring information, quotes, video news release schedules and much more. Go to http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/media. All the testing sessions are open and free to the public with access to a section of the Oldfield Grandstand available through the lobby of DAYTONA USA. Tickets to Speedweeks 2003 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.