Home race, open house should boost spirits at Bobby Hamilton Racing spirits DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2006) -- The 2005 season has not been kind to Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) or Bobby Hamilton Racing. This was supposed to be...
Home race, open house should boost spirits at Bobby Hamilton Racing spirits
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2006) -- The 2005 season has not been kind to Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 18 Fastenal Dodge) or Bobby Hamilton Racing.
This was supposed to be a season of redemption for the 28-year-old, second generation driver whose disappointing foray into NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition ended last November.
Hamilton began the year with a seventh-place finish at Daytona and three top 10s in the team's first five races.
Shortly after the season began, his father, 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The younger Hamilton was tapped to finish the season his father's ride, but so far, the results haven't been what anyone might have anticipated.
Hamilton hasn't finished higher than 15th in his 10 most recent starts. Since late April, BHR, which has fielded up to three trucks in each event, has recorded just one top-five finish -- Bobby Labonte's third-place performance in a substitute role at Michigan International Speedway.
"It's been a trying year," said the younger Hamilton. "It's been a disappointing season and we haven't had the results we wanted but at the same time, for whatever reason, I'm having to go through it.
"So there must be a lesson in there somewhere. Right now I can't see it but there's still time to accomplish my goals. In the end, all this is going to make me better."
Saturday's Toyota Tundra 200, a hometown race for the Mt. Juliet-based team at nearby Nashville Superspeedway, is a welcome turn of the schedule. The elder Hamilton won the race in 2004 -- after his son grabbed the Budweiser Pole. The pair fought for the victory throughout, trading the lead a number of times.
"That was a pretty special day," said Hamilton, who finished fourth. "I can remember that last handful of laps, him passing me and racing with me. It was a bitter defeat but it was a sweet defeat at the same time. I was mad because I should have won the race but it was still pretty cool in Victory Lane because he's tried so hard to win art Nashville."
Hamilton is just glad to be back in front of his longtime fans.
"The hometown crowd really makes you feel good because you walk through the gate and everybody knows you," he said. "All of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup guys aren't there so you're really a big cheese."
Race week also allows Nashville fans to visit the Bobby Hamilton Racing shops, a celebration that's grown exponentially from a low-key autograph signing a few years ago. This is the first time anyone other than the track's season ticket holders has been invited. There is a $5 cover charge with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
"I have received tremendous support from cancer survivors, race fans and people who are supportive of our community," said the elder Hamilton, who last month completed his cancer therapies and has returned to the track to oversee the trucks driven by his son and sophomore Timothy Peters (No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge). "So this is one way for me to give back to the community and gives me a chance to see them face-to-face."