Hamilton Survives Late Scare In Ncts Built Ford Tough 225 Presented By The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers
Bobby Hamilton and his No. 4 Square D Dodge took a win at Kentucky Speedway tonight to spoil the sponsor's party in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."
Hamilton took the series lead in wins with three and his second straight top-two finish after surviving a green-white-checkered flag finish and late race charges from Jack Sprague in the No. 16 Chevy Silverado Chevrolet and David Starr in the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet.
The 47-year-old driver led all but 20 laps of the 153-lap battle, but slipped to second when Sprague took the lead with four laps remaining. A spin by Rick Crawford in the No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford brought out caution a lap later to set up the green-white-checkered scenario with three laps to go.
On the restart, Hamilton powered his No. 4 Dodge to the inside of the No. 16 Chevrolet and drove straight to Victory Lane. He beat Sprague by 0.179 of a second in the closest NCTS race in Kentucky Speedway history. The previous closest margin was 1.368 set by Scott Riggs in his 2001 NCTS win at the track.
"I never got real nervous," Hamilton said about the restart. "What do you do? He's (Sprague) is probably one of the best and he has a lot more experience with the green-white-checkered than I do. As aero efficient as these (trucks) are, I knew I wasn't going to pass him at race speed, so I had to do it on the restart. I just had a ton of motor, I just pulled out past him and threw it into gear."
Hamilton built his largest leading margin of more than eight seconds near the midpoint of the race. He attributed his strong performance to undisclosed advice given to him by his son, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., who won a NASCAR Busch Series race at the track in 2003 and led more than 100 laps of this season's Kentucky Busch event before losing an engine.
"He (Hamilton, Jr.) told me a lot of good stuff I used tonight," Hamilton said. "Something he told me about this racetrack, about how to drive it. I have a lot more experience than him and I never would've thought it, but I did it tonight and it was like, 'holy crap.' I could run two and three tenths quicker than I wanted, it was all about how I drove the truck. I never will tell what it is, I didn't even tell my teammate Chad Chaffin. I just don't do that, I keep that to myself because somebody else will figure it out before long."
Starr, Matt Crafton (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and Hamilton's teammate, Chad Chaffin (No. 18 Dickies Dodge) rounded out the top-five.
Hamilton, who owns a total of five top-five and eight top-10 finishes this season, overtakes defending race champion Carl Edwards for second in the series standings. Edwards completed only 89 laps of tonight's race and finished 33rd due to problems in the right rear of his No. 99 Superchips Ford. Dennis Setzer held on to his series lead with a with an 11th-place finish and now leads Hamilton by a mere six points entering the series' next race at Gateway International Raceway on July 17. The 2004 Kentucky Speedway season continues August 14 with "Louisville Courier-Journal" Pole Night featuring Indy Racing League IndyCar Series qualifying and a 100-mile IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series race and August 15 with the IRL IndyCar Series "Belterra Casino Indy 300." Visit http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com for ticket information.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~