MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 6, 2001) -- When Bobby Hamilton to returns to Martinsville Speedway to defend his Advance Auto Parts 250 championship, he won't have to look very far for competition. In fact, he'll find plenty of action from a couple...
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 6, 2001) -- When Bobby Hamilton to returns to Martinsville Speedway to defend his Advance Auto Parts 250 championship, he won't have to look very far for competition.
In fact, he'll find plenty of action from a couple of guys on his own payroll when the green flag falls on the Advance Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Series Truck race on April 7.
In addition to making a handful of starts on the Craftsman Truck Series again this season, Hamilton is fielding trucks for veteran Joe Ruttman and Craftsman Truck Series rookie Willie Ribbs.
Ruttman, who finished sixth in the Advance Auto Parts 250 last year, came out of the gates strong this season for Hamilton's team, winning the first event of the year at Daytona International Speedway last month.
"There have been some major changes in this team over the winter, but I'm pleased about how things have come together," said Hamilton, who has also won at Martinsville Speedway in the Winston Cup series. "Every year, we make changes that are meant to improve the team. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes we have to make a few adjustments before we get it right.
"This year is no different, but we are very confident about our performance this season."
The biggest change for Hamilton's operation in the off season was the addition of the 42-year-old Ribbs. He's a truck-series rookie, but he's far from a racing rookie, with years and years of open-wheel and sports car experience to his credit.
Ribbs, who will drive the third Dodge out of Hamilton's stable, is the first African-American driver to compete fulltime in a major NASCAR Series since Wendell Scott retired in the early 1970s. The California driver has finished 19th in each of the two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races so far this year.
If either Ruttman or Ribbs plan on keeping up with their boss in the Virginia 500, they had better hope he doesn't have a run like last year. Hamilton led 179 of the 250 laps after starting on the outside pole in the event that was moved to Monday because of rain on Saturday. Hamilton, in the Dana Corporation Dodge, took the lead for good on the 200th lap and finished 4.3 seconds ahead of pole-winner Mike Wallace.
The Virginia 500/Advance Auto Parts 250 weekend kicks off with Bud Pole qualifying for the Craftsman Truck Series at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6 followed by time trials for the Winston Cup Series at 3 p.m. Tickets for qualifying are $15 for adults and children under 12 get in free.
Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 250 Craftsman Truck race are $30 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved.
There still are great seats available for the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race for $40-$70 each. To purchase tickets call the speedway ticket office toll free at 877-722-3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.