NASCAR community remembers Bobby Hamilton
Although teams and drivers were focused on testing Monday, the garage area also was filled with thoughts of long-time NASCAR competitor Bobby Hamilton, who passed away Sunday after battling cancer.
“Bobby was not only a huge part of the racing family, but of the Petty family as well,” said seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Richard Petty, whom Hamilton drove for from 1995-97. “He will always be a part of our family. He had a heart of a champion and that affected everyone around him. You could always count on Bobby. He was just that type of guy. He never let you down and gave you everything he had on-and-off the track. His family is in our hearts and prayers.”
Others in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage area also expressed their thoughts about Hamilton.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell Chevrolet: “Bobby and I raced hard on the race track. After 2001, we kind of had a run-in at Martinsville and ever since that point, Bobby and I became pretty good friends. It’s hard to lose somebody in the racing family, let alone somebody that you knew particularly well. It’s hard to understand why certain things happen to certain people. He was a good person, liked to race and liked to be part of the sport.”
Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota: “My heart goes out to his family and we’ll definitely be thinking of him. We’ve all probably been through that and lost someone, but that’s part of life. You’ve got to remember the good times and move on the best you can. We’re all going to miss him.”
Ricky Rudd, No. 88 Snickers Ford: “Bobby was a class guy. He worked hard to get where he was and was a good family guy. I hate to see anybody have trouble like that. I guess it’s more a shock to me.”
Jimmy Elledge, crew chief, No. 41 Target Dodge and former Hamilton crew chief: “Bobby really meant a lot to me. He’s the guy I won my first race with and so far it’s still my only win. Bobby taught me about a lot of things. When he came to the team in 2001, that team was two years old. He came in and really embraced the guys. He really had some neat qualities. He came over every week and spent the day with us, took us to lunch and stuff. He was a real solid figure that that team needed at the time, and I needed, too. We wish we still had him here.”
In 15 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons from 1989-2005, Hamilton recorded four wins, five poles, 20 top-five finishes and 67 top-10 finishes in 371 starts. He also won the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. Hamilton formed Bobby Hamilton Racing in 1996, which became one of the flagship teams for Dodge Motorsports and produced his 2004 Craftsman Truck Series title.