Bobby Hamilton: Martinsville Master


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 HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19: Bobby Hamilton, driver of the #4 Square D Dodge, celebrates in victory circle after winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship during the Ford 200 on November 19, 2004 at the Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

If the late Bobby Hamilton had a track where you could count on him being in the hunt, regardless of how well or how poorly his season was going, it was the half-mile paperclip in Martinsville, Virginia.

In 23 Sprint Cup starts at the track, Bobby scored eight top tens, six of those being top fives. In April of 1998, he thoroughly dominated the 500 lap event in the famed Kodak Chevy, winning from the pole after leading 378 laps for Morgan-McLure Motorsports' final Cup win.

He had one other pole, for the fall race in 1996 while driving for Richard Petty. On that day he led 331 laps, but settled for a third place finish.

Those two results both occured in the midst of a ten race strech that began in April of 1994 in which Bobby never finished below 14th. He scored seven of his eight top tens at the track in that span, including one four race stretch where he finished third, second, third, and first. His worst result during that streak was the 14th place finish that closed it out, in October of '98.

After a couple of lean years, Bobby returned to the front at Martinsville when he joined Andy Petree's team. In his first race for Petree at the track, he started ninth, led the most laps, and finished fourth. He took 13th place that fall, but that was far from indicative of his performance. A late race dump from then-rookie Kevin Harvick cost Hamilton what seemed like a sure victory and led to a harsh war of words after the race.

In his career, Bobby led 1,091 laps at the track. By comparison, his next highest total was 211 at Richmond. His success at Martinsville wasn't just limited to the Cup Series, either. In April of 2000, he scored a victory in the Camping World Truck Series race, and he led 577 total laps there in twelve starts. He also made seven NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Martinsville, recording three top-ten finishes.

Bobby's last start at Martinsville came in October of 2005, where he dropped out after completing 339 laps in the Sprint Cup event.

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