Hamilton Uses Late Pass To Win Busch Series Meijer 300 Presented By Oreo At Kentucky Speedway
After dominating the first third of Saturday's " Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo," Bobby Hamilton, Jr., needed a late pass to claim the victory on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Hamilton led 86 laps early, but a snafu within his No. 25 Marine Corps Ford Team in the pits cost him valuable track position midway through the race. Hamilton, Jr., battled back and ran in the top four throughout the final third of the race before coming away with the win.
On Lap 198, Hamilton, Jr., dove to the inside of Jason Keller, who had led for 24 laps, on the way into Turn One. Hamilton made the pass and held off Keller to win the race by .488 of a second at the line in front of 69,366 fans.
"I kept working on (Keller) high and just kept digging," Hamilton said. "Jason races clean, so I didn't worry about him. I kept running the bottom and I just worked by him."
After starting on the outside of Row One, Hamilton, Jr., took the lead on the first lap of the race, and relinquished it for only three laps after a flurry of green flag pit stops 67 laps into the race.
Twenty laps later, the race came under its first caution period. Hamilton and all the lead cars came into the pits. Hamilton got out in good time from his stop, but the lug nuts on the left front tire weren't secure. One lap later, while the race was still under caution, Hamilton was back in the pits getting the lug nuts tightened.
"It's a pretty pressured situation out there, and when your adrenaline gets to you, you never know what can happen," Hamilton Jr.'s, crew chief Harold Holly said. "I'm just very proud of them because they did an excellent job on the next stop."
The difficulty in the pits dropped Hamilton, Jr., back as far as 12th. But he was back to second by Lap 120.
The victory, his second career win in the Busch Series and his first of the 2003 season, earned Hamilton $95,270, a Kentucky Speedway record that is also the third-highest payout at a Busch race this season. Hamilton, Jr., improves one spot in the series standings to seventh.
It was an extra special win for Hamilton, Jr., because it fell on Flag Day. For a driver who represents the military, it couldn't have been a more fitting day to get the win.
"Being in the Marine car any day is special," Hamilton, Jr., said. "They always support their racing. Out hats go off to them for being out there fighting, They are the only reason that we are here right now. All we can do is give them something to root for on the track."
Keller moved up one spot to fifth in the series points race with his second place finish.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) led 33 laps in the race, and finished third. Pole sitter Stacy Compton (No. 59 Kingsford/Johnsonville Chevrolet) and Scott Wimmer (No. 23 Stacker2/Stamina Rx Chevrolet) rounded out the top five.
Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford), who entered the race with the points lead, led 54 laps in the race, and was in front of the field on a Lap 165 restart. After taking the green flag, Riggs was caught outside Hornaday, Jr., as they battled for the lead. The cars made contact and Riggs made contact with the wall.
Riggs finished in 30th place, 26 laps off the pace. With that finish, and an eighth place showing by David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac), Green has unofficially moved past Riggs and into the points lead.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~