Work in Sports
Hamilton Jr. ready for shot in the big leagues
Updated: Thursday May 24, 2001 11:17 AM
E. FLAT ROCK, N.C. (CNNSI.com) -- Bobby Hamilton, Jr. passed the preliminaries -- he is headed to the "big show." For one race, at least.
Hamilton, Jr. will remain behind the wheel of the No. 33 of Andy Petree Racing for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. Hamilton is coming off finishes of 12th and fourth in this past weekend's Winston Open and No Bull Sprint races at the same speedway.
Hamilton is driving in place of regular driver Joe Nemechek, who was injured in a crash during Busch Grand National testing May 15, at Dover Downs (Del.) International Speedway. A broken right arm and right scapula will keep Nemechek in in a cast for up to two weeks.
"Bobby was smooth and solid in both races, and he showed us a lot of the potential he has," Petree said. "The fact of the matter is, he deserves a chance to run the 600. We think Little Bobby is the best driver we can get right now."
Hamilton, who drove for Felix Sabates in the 2000 season-finale at Atlanta as a relief driver, seemed pleased to return.
"It was just 46 laps [in the Winston Open and No Bull Sprint], and that's just enough time to start getting pretty excited about things," Hamilton said. "I felt like we had a pretty good car but experience is such a big, big factor in this sport. With a little more time on race day and a little more practice time this week, I think we could be pretty good in the 600.
"My goal is going to get 334 laps under my belt next Sunday night. If I can do that, we'll have a good finish."
Hamilton says he's physically ready to run his first 600-mile event.
"When you want to do this as much as I do, an extra 100 miles is a blessing," he said. "Adrenaline alone will keep me going."
Hamilton, Jr. will make his first practice runs Thursday at the Charlotte track, and attempt to qualify Thursday night for the Coca-Cola 600.