NWS: 2001 champion ready for return to Tric-City Raceway

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (April 11, 2002)-- Kevin Hamlin, the defending Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champion, had a great deal of success at Tri-City Raceway during the 2001 season. He earned his first career Bud Pole Award and third...

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (April 11, 2002)-- Kevin Hamlin, the defending Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champion, had a great deal of success at Tri-City Raceway during the 2001 season. He earned his first career Bud Pole Award and third overall series victory at the .500-mile tri-oval facility located in West Richland, Wash.

The series returns to Tri-City Raceway on April 27 for the Costco 125. Hamlin tested Goodyear tires at the track in early March and he said that experience should help with his teams' preparation of the American Dream Motorsports/Berryman Products Chevrolet for the upcoming race.

"We want to do what we did last season," Hamlin said. "We won a race and after pitting for a crumpled hood were able to come from last place to fifth in the second race. It (the Goodyear test) helped tremendously. We know that Goodyear has an excellent tire and we know that our set-up from last year will still work."

Learning from veterans like Garrett Evans, Ron Eaton, Gary Lewis, John Dillon and others who have success at the tough driving West Richland facility has been key to Hamlin's growth as a driver on the tri-oval.

"You've got to watch what they do. I learn from watching people and how they drive and take advantage of their strong points and weaknesses," Hamlin said.

"The hard part is most of these guys don't have any weaknesses."

Since joining the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series back in 1998, Hamlin had been very close to winning a Bud Pole Award but fallen short until last June at Tri-City Raceway. This year he said that capturing the pole would be nice, but earning a good finish is a better result when racing for another series crown.

"We'll go in with the mind set that we'll click off a fast time to get that Bud Pole but, wins and consistent finishes earn you championships not Bud Pole's," Hamlin said.

Tri-City Raceway is a very unique race track according to Hamlin. With three distinctively different corners, finding a set-up to get around is tough on most drivers and teams he said.

"You're turning so much there and the track is so different in all the turns that you do need to have some horsepower to get around," Hamlin said. "You need the power but you also need to be able to get through the turns."

Hamlin's motor program comes from Nutter Racing Engines, which are bolted into a Port City chassis.

Even though the series has held only one race in the 2002 season, Hamlin is in front of a very tough group of drivers that sit near the top of the points standings. Gary Lewis, Chris Hart, Pete Harding, and Jeff Jefferson (2nd through 5th respectively) have all found success at Tri-City Raceway during their racing careers.

Hamlin said that picking one driver to challenge for the win in the Costco 125 would be tough to do because so many of the Northwest Series veterans could be tough to beat in the event.

"It's hard to say, those guys (the current top-5 in points) are all contenders but there are 10 others at least who could have had a bad day at Monroe and come back strong in this event," Hamlin said.

One of those' other' guys that Hamlin does expect to be strong in the Costco 125 is last season's rookie of the year runner-up.

"Troy Conrad had a bad night at Evergreen so I'll be looking for that No. 16 car to be up there in this race," Hamlin said.

The Costco 125 takes the green flag at 9 p.m. on April 27. For ticket information call (509) 248-0647 or log onto the tracks website at www.tricityraceway.com

-tcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Kevin Hamlin , Gary Lewis