BUSCH: Daytona II: Bobby Hamilton Jr preview

The NASCAR Busch Series will celebrate the Fourth of July in Daytona Beach, FL under the lights of the famed Daytona International Speedway for the first time in its history. Hamilton, Jr. finished 30th in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season...

The NASCAR Busch Series will celebrate the Fourth of July in Daytona Beach, FL under the lights of the famed Daytona International Speedway for the first time in its history. Hamilton, Jr. finished 30th in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February after a blown right rear tire caused significant damage to the car. After repairs were made, the driver was many laps down. It was not the start Hamilton, Jr. wanted with his new team, but luckily it was not a sign of things to come. At the halfway point in the season, the driver of the No. 25 Team Marines Ford Taurus is having the best season of his career and sees only more good things to come as the second half of the season gets under way.

Bobby Hamilton, Jr. on Daytona - On racing at night:

"There is something about racing under the lights makes things a little more exciting for the drivers as well as the fans," said Hamilton, Jr. You can't really put your finger on it, but you can definitely feel the added excitement in the air. I think that excitement will be magnified at Daytona, because it is Daytona. Racing there anytime, day or night, is special because the place has so much history. It's seen a lot of triumph and tragedy. But it's all history of this sport and I think every driver wants to win at Daytona to be a part of that history."

"As far as racing under the lights goes, I don't foresee any major differences in racing at night as opposed to during the day. People often ask about the visibility factor of night racing. Visibility is really not a problem at all, but you do have to compensate for the shadows and reflections on the track. After a few laps you are pretty accustomed to it and your eyes have adjusted. I think the biggest thing is that the track will be faster for the actual race than it will be during the first practice session, which takes place in the afternoon. Because of that, you won't learn a whole lot about your race set up in that first practice. There will be a lot of guessing going on until Happy Hour but hey, I love a good challenge."

On what it takes to win at Daytona:

"Winning at Daytona is not always about how good your car is. It also has a lot to do with how lucky you are. 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. Finding someone to work with you in the draft is another important element. You cannot win or even finish in the top-15 if no one will work with you. You can lose ten positions in one lap at Daytona."

"Of course, the biggest concern for everyone is avoiding "The Big One." The restrictor plate rules bunch us up so much that one mistake by one person can cause a huge problem for a lot of people. Just look at what happened at Talladega. An accident on lap 11 took out 24 cars. That's over half the field. Overall, I would say that the key at Daytona is being at the right place at the right time every single lap.

Fred Wanke on Daytona:

"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. In that first practice, we will pretty much focus solely on our qualifying set up. We want to be able to start up front, so that we have a better chance of avoiding trouble. We don't want to get caught up in something like we did in Talladega. It will be during Happy Hour on Thursday that we'll really make our key decisions regarding race setup for Friday night."

"Unlike Talladega, where handling isn't as big a factor, you have to have a good handling car at Daytona because the radius of the turns are tighter and the track doesn't have the grip that Talladega does. That will be our focus during Happy Hour. I want to make sure Bobby has everything he needs. Our season got off too a rough start at the season opener in Daytona in February, but this team is looking forward to a second chance to show what they have the capability of doing there and that's bringing home the trophy."


Hamilton, Jr., who currently sits eighth in the Busch Series points standings, will drive chassis No. 21 in the inaugural night Busch Series event at Daytona International Speedway. This will mark the third time Hamilton, Jr. has driven this car. While his luck in No. 21 has been unfortunate, (30th at Daytona, 22nd at Talladega) he hopes that the third time will be the charm.


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Drivers Bobby Hamilton