BUSCH: Daytona II: Bobby Hamilton Jr. preview

Bobby Hamilton, Jr. and No. 25 Team Marines ready to take NASCAR Busch Series by storm as second half of 2002 season begins. (Mooresville, NC) -- For many drivers, Daytona International Speedway is a place of renewal. A place to recharge their...

Bobby Hamilton, Jr. and No. 25 Team Marines ready to take NASCAR Busch Series by storm as second half of 2002 season begins.

(Mooresville, NC) -- For many drivers, Daytona International Speedway is a place of renewal. A place to recharge their batteries and regain their focus. On July, 5, 2002, the NASCAR Busch Series returns to action at Daytona International Speedway for the GNC Live Well/ Stacker2 250 and Bobby Hamilton, Jr., driver of the No. 25 Team Marines Ford Taurus fielded by Team Rensi Motorsports, is anxious to begin the second half of a season that has brought the young driver much success.

In the first half of the 2002 season the No. 25 Team Marines had several stellar performances that caught many off guard. Hamilton, Jr. and his team posted four top-five and eight top-ten finishes. To top it off, they scored their first NASCAR Busch Series victory with their win at New Hampshire International Speedway in May. The win was a first for Hamilton, Jr. as a driver, Team Rensi Motorsports as a team and the United States Marine Corps as a marketing partner.

Though the year got off to rough start with mechanical troubles at Daytona and finishing a lap down at Rockingham, things began coming together three weeks into the season in Las Vegas.

"When you move to a new team with guys you have never worked with before, you know going in that it may very well take awhile for everything to fall into place," said Hamilton, Jr. "It may even take half the season to get to that point. But it only took three weeks with these guys. In Las Vegas we really started clicking. I was able to tell Fred exactly what was going on with the car and he really listened to me and was able to make the adjustments I needed to be competitive. I have never had that before.

I have been pleased with our on-track performance each week," added Hamilton, Jr. "Sure, we have had some bumps in the road, but we have come through them and have gotten better because of them. We have been running consistently in the top-five or top-ten for several weeks now, with the exception of Kentucky, and that was one of our goals at the beginning of the season.

"Now, we look towards the second half of the season and that starts this weekend at Daytona. I am really looking forward to racing under the lights at Daytona. To win at Daytona, you have to have luck on your side. Of course you have to have a good motor, a good aero package, and good pit stops, but I think luck plays a bigger factor in the restrictor plate races than in other race. We were running great there in February until we blew a tire and ended up finishing 30th. With the way we've been running the past couple of months I think we have a good shot at winning this one, if luck stays on our side."

Fred Wanke, Hamilton, Jr.'s crew chief, is looking forward to running at Daytona under the lights for the first time.

"Our season got off to a rough start after finishing 30th at the season opener in Daytona," said Wanke. "But luckily, that wasn't a reflection of things to come. We are really looking forward to going back to Daytona and having a second chance to show what we can do there. I think this first night race at Daytona for the Busch Series will be pretty exciting. Most of us have never raced Daytona at night so we'll all be on a pretty level playing field."

Wanke feels that more success is around the corner for his team in the second half of the season.

"We had high expectations at the beginning of the year and it's nice to say that our performance for these first 17 races exceeded those expectations," added Wanke. "For every race this season we gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Now we'll start going back to tracks for the second time and that knowledge and experience is going to help us tremendously. So, will our acquisition of the 98 Channellock team. Bobby and Kasey (Kahne) will be abl e to exchange information on the cars and how they're running. For a crew chief, the more information you have the more successful you will be."

Sam Rensi, co-owner of Team Rensi Motorsports, is pleased with the progress the team has made this season. After a disappointing 2001 season left his team 29th in points, Rensi realized that a complete overhaul was in order.

"We are so proud of this team," said Rensi. "After last year, we wanted to start completely over. We hired Bobby and Fred, and made a change in manufacturers and engine builders. The result has definitely played in our favor. We got our first NASCAR Busch Series victory and have posted several impressive finishes. Our focus for the second half of the season is to eliminate DNF's and consistency.

Bobby Hamilton, Jr. is a great young driver who has matured a tremendous amount in the span of just a few months," added Rensi. "He is a student of the sport who pays a lot of attention to what goes on around him and he is not afraid to ask for help when he needs it. The relationship he and Fred have is ideal. Fred has been in the sport for a lot of years and has a great deal of experience. I think that he has taught Bobby a lot in the past few months and I think Bobby's continuing improved performance is a result of the communication between them. I don't think that anyone has seen what this team is really capable of yet, but I think that they are getting ready to in these last 17 races of the season."

The first race of the rest of the season begins at the wave of the green flag at 8 pm Saturday, July 5, 2002 at Daytona International Speedway and the No. 25 Team Marines bunch is ready for it!

"What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July and start the last half of the season on a good note, than a win at Daytona under the lights? I can't think of anything!"


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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Bobby Hamilton Jr.