A victory in hometown of Nashville would be music to Bobby Hamilton, Jr.'s ears. Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Team Marines Ford Taurus, has never had an interest in any type of musical instrument, with the exception of one -- a...
A victory in hometown of Nashville would be music to Bobby Hamilton, Jr.'s ears.
Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Team Marines Ford Taurus, has never had an interest in any type of musical instrument, with the exception of one -- a Gibson Guitar custom designed by San Bass from Victory Lane at the Nashville Superspeedway. This weekend, he'll be the hometown favorite to win the coveted trophy when the NASCAR Busch Series heads to Nashville Superspeedway for the Pepsi 300 on Saturday, April 13, 2002.
This will be Hamilton. Jr.'s first race in his hometown since joining forces with Team Rensi Motorsports and the United States Marine Corps. Leaving Texas with an 8th place finish, his first top-ten finish of the season, and a lot of confidence, he would love nothing more than to score his first NASCAR Busch Series victory right here at home.
Many drivers have the advantage of having a lot of seat time on their home tracks. Hamilton, Jr. doesn't have that advantage. While he spent a lot of time racing late models at Nashville Speedway USA, the brand new Nashville Superspeedway opened up just a year ago, leaving Hamilton, Jr. on a level playing field with his fellow competitors.
Despite that, he is feeling extremely confident heading into the weekend.
"I am looking forward to racing again here in Nashville," said Hamilton, Jr. "It's a comfortable feeling, just knowing you are at home. I like the new track and feel confident about our chances here. I ran really well here last year, until we lost both first and second gear and I fell to the back at every restart, ruining our chances for a strong finish. But I liked the feel of the track -- kind of a combination between Las Vegas, California and Darlington. I think it is pretty well suited to my driving style. On top of that, Fred (Wanke, crew chief) had a second place finish here last year in the trucks, so he has a good understanding of the track and the set-up it takes to run well here."
"Nashville is a very unique track," said Team Marines crew chief, Fred Wanke. "Last year it was a one groove race track and you had to be handling almost perfectly to pass anybody. We had a hard time getting the car set-up the way we wanted it. After lots of adjustments, we finally got it right and wound up finishing second, but I can tell you that getting there wasn't easy.
"This track is all about a good handling race car and horsepower, and we are fortunate to have both," add Wanke. "The driver really needs to like this track and Bobby does. Track position and a good qualifying spot are very important here and is what we will concentrate on when we unload on Thursday."
Hamilton, Jr, who currently sits ninth in the Busch Series points standings, will be driving the same car he raced to an eighth place finish just last weekend in Texas, and brought the Team Marines their best finish and first top-ten of the early season.
"That car is awesome!" Hamilton, Jr. said. "I'd have to say that it's definitely my favorite. Every driver likes to find that one car that fits them, and I think I found the one. It handled really well and I felt extremely comfortable in it at Texas. We raced it in Darlington as well, and it just seems to get better and better.
This team just keeps getting stronger and stronger," adds Hamilton, Jr. "Last weekend we got our best finish of the season, our first top-10, and I know that we would have finished in the top-five, had the race not been rained out. We have a lot of momentum going into this race and all I have to say is that everybody better look out because this team is on the move."