BUSCH: Pikes Peak: Round 21 preview

Great racing leads to great memories at PPIR DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) -- Pikes Peak International Raceway may have only hosted six NASCAR Busch Series races entering Saturday's Goulds Pumps/ITT Industries Salute to the Troops 250 ...

Great racing leads to great memories at PPIR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) -- Pikes Peak International Raceway may have only hosted six NASCAR Busch Series races entering Saturday's Goulds Pumps/ITT Industries Salute to the Troops 250 presented by Dodge, but in those half-dozen events the highlights have been almost too many to count.

Matt Kenseth won the inaugural race at the facility in 1998, which also featured two more future NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars in Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart who tangled during the race. The next year, Andy Santerre scored a popular win, as Earnhardt Jr. again mixed it up on the race track, this time with Todd Bodine.

The 2000 edition of this event featured an exciting late-race battle for the win between brothers David and Jeff Green. Locked in a dead heat for most of the final 50 laps, Jeff finally emerged as the victor. After being released from his original team in early June of 2001, Jeff Purvis picked up a ride in late July with Richard Childress Racing. In just his second race with the team, he emerged victorious at Pikes Peak.

It was in 2002 that Hank Parker Jr. stretched his fuel mileage to win the second race of his NASCAR Busch Series career. Last year, Scott Wimmer wrestled the lead away from Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) -- who had started from the rear of the field due to an engine change -- with less than 25 laps to go to score his first win of the season.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford), on the other hand, had a day to forget in 2003. He started from the Busch Pole and led the first 31 laps, but later was involved in an accident with Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) that relegated him to a 25th-place finish.

That result, coupled with showings of 35th and 34th in two of the next three races, doomed Hamilton Jr.'s title hopes in the tight 2003 battle for the NASCAR Busch Series championship. He finished just 49 points out of first place.

Currently eighth in the championship standings and only 78 points behind No. 4 Keller, Hamilton Jr. considers Pikes Peak as a pivotal race for his team.

"We had a fast car last year and really felt we could have won the race," Hamilton Jr. said. "That's all in the past now, and we are going to Pikes Peak with one thing on our minds. That's to win the race. Our only goal right now is winning races and with Harold (Holly, crew chief) and his experience at this track, I know we will have a great chance."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Jeff Green , Hank Parker Jr. , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Scott Wimmer , Mike Bliss
Teams Richard Childress Racing