TOLEDO, Ohio – official series release by Don Radebaugh — ARCA photo —
Nashville, Tennessee’s Bobby Hamilton, Jr. is one of several drivers expected on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards entry list for the next event on tour, set to be held at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on April 8-9.
Hamilton will be joining a wide mix of ARCA rookies and veterans all hoping to make headlines on the storied Tennessee State Fairgrounds short track, a task that’s easier said than done.
“It’s a tough place,” Hamilton said. “Once the tires go away you start slipping and sliding…you have to be ready for that. It happens fast there. Three laps ago, you were able to do this, this, and this, but now, nothing. You have to be able to adjust your car to that. You really have to be ahead of it. You have that huge hump off the back straightaway that can really upset the car too.”
Several teams are planning to test at Nashville – Lira Motorsports, Ken Schrader Racing, Cunningham Motorsports, Athenian Motorsports, Venturini Motorsports, Team Crosley and more – but not Hamilton.
“We’d like to test but we figure we’d be better served to utilize those resources somewhere else down the line. … It’s a long season ahead. We don’t have the budget the top teams have, so we have to be pickier on where we test, if anywhere. I’ve run there, my crew chief’s been there. We know the place well enough. We should be able to run the top-10.”
That said, Hamilton hopes his experience on the iconic short track will work to his advantage.
“We’ve done it so many times, we know what to expect. I’ve raced an XFINITY car here. We had an underfunded car here last year, but we had one of the fastest cars during the middle of the race. That’s Nashville — you can throw all kinds of money at it, but it doesn’t always respond to that. Big budgets help, but they don’t always prevail at Nashville. We’re not going to win it, but we can use my experience and get back in the top-10 in points.”
After running the local tracks, including Nashville at the onset of his career, Hamilton moved into the ARCA ranks to get superspeedway experience and quickly followed in his father’s footsteps into the top-tier NASCAR divisions, including the Sprint Cup Series — where he made 64 starts after 253 on the Xfinity Series side.
“I look back when I was running ARCA years ago, and I really wished now that I would have stuck around a little longer. I really wanted to win a championship, but I had the chance to move on, so we took that opportunity when we had it. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to win a championship first, and that would have been in ARCA back then.”
“I can tell you now that I’d trade everything I’ve been able to do in my career for what Frank Kimmel’s (10-time ARCA champ/All-time series winner) accomplished. My respect for Kimmel is off the charts. When you’ve raced this long, you know what it takes to do what Frank did. You don’t have to be a Jimmie Johnson to be a great race driver — Frank Kimmel is proof of that. Frank’s done everything a young driver can ever hope to learn in this business. He’s already accomplished it. He’s definitely one of, if not the greatest ARCA driver ever, and that’s a big deal, a lot bigger than what people may realize.”
“Who knows, maybe if we can hang in this deal long enough, we can be an ARCA champion. There’s nothing I’d be more proud of. This series has everything a driver could hope for with all the different tracks. It’s the best training ground for the new hot shoes coming up and a great place for the veterans to keep their skills sharp. I love it here.”
The next “here” for Hamilton will be a good old-fashioned hometown adventure at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series