BUSCH: Hamilton Jr to inherit #32 Cup ride

PPI Motorsports announced Wednesday that Bobby Hamilton, Jr. will take over driving duties of the No. 32 Chevy beginning in 2005. Hamilton's crew chief fro the Busch series, Harold Holly, will also sign on to the team. "All I can say is I'm...

PPI Motorsports announced Wednesday that Bobby Hamilton, Jr. will take over driving duties of the No. 32 Chevy beginning in 2005. Hamilton's crew chief fro the Busch series, Harold Holly, will also sign on to the team.

"All I can say is I'm more than ready to go Cup racing," said Hamilton Jr. "I'm excited about this chance to drive full time in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series for PPI Motorsports in the No. 32 Tide Chevrolet. What makes this even better is the chance to keep working with Harold.

"He's been a great leader for our Busch team and has inspired all of us to perform at our best and achieve what we set out to do. I'm also grateful to the people at Team Rensi Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to drive for them the past two seasons and wish them all the best."

Holly helped earn Hamilton four of his five Busch series wins as crew chief for the No. 25 Busch series car.

Cal Wells announced last week that Ricky Craven would not be returning as primary driver of the No. 32 Chevy after the 2004 season. Craven's crew chief, Dave Charpentier, was replaced by Mike Beam and neither will return to those duties in 2005 as Wells hopes Holly will continue his magic with Hamilton in the No. 32 Chevy.

"We are excited about Bobby's potential in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series," Wells said. "He's been a standout performer in the Busch series and has several Cup starts already to his credit, and he's definitely ready for a shot at full-time Cup racing. Harold, with his championship experience and proven ability to lead and motivate a team, is a tremendous asset to our overall organization. We expect the two to be a strong, positive force for our team and in the Cup garage."

Hamilton and Holly will begin testing with Team 32 in the next few weeks, and current crew chief Mike Beam will help with the transition.

It has been speculated that current driver, Ricky Craven, may chose retirement at the end of this year instead of pursuing another ride, but Craven seemed conflicted last weekend at NHIS when asked about such possibilities.

"You're always judged by how well you're running or not running. What he and I agreed is that there's a right and wrong way of doing things, and the right way for he and I to do end this would be at the end of this season instead of letting this go with no clear picture," Craven said.

"It concerns me in the respect that I don't know what the perception is on 38-year old racecar drivers," Craven continued. "My own opinion is, there's a certain value to youth and the energy and aggression, but there's a certain value to experience and savvy and knowing the drivers and their personalities.

"I feel like 35 to 40 is the sweet spot there, where you have both. I've still got the energy, the determination, but I've also got the experience. I'd like to race at least two more years in a quality situation, but I'm not interested in just being here. And at 38, as we close the door on 2004, I'll just have to evaluate that based on opportunity."

The best Craven has finished this year is 16th; he has 15 finishes of 20th or worse. In contrast, Hamilton has ten top-ten Busch finishes. Hamilton has made five NEXTEL Cup series starts in 2004, his highest finish being 17th.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ricky Craven