Bobby Hamilton Jr. returns to racing, gets full-time ARCA ride for 2014

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Bobby Hamilton Jr. will make his return to racing this season, driving full-time in the ARCA series for Carter 2 Motorsports, the team announced late Thursday.

Hamilton, 36, will make his first start for the team on March 22 at the Mobile ARCA 200 at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway.

A native of suburban Nashville, Hamilton will drive the No. 40 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge Charger.

“I’ve always liked running in ARCA,” Hamilton said. “Plus, I love the old school car that’s run in the series. I’m also thrilled to be going back to some of the historic short-tracks that ARCA runs on.”

The son of 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton Sr., the younger Hamilton last raced in NASCAR in the Trucks Series in 2011 in a one-off entry. He previously raced last in the Nationwide Series in 2009 and the Sprint Cup Series in 2005.

During his career, Hamilton Jr. made 64 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, 253 in the Nationwide Series events – including five victories – and 37 in the Camping World Truck Series.

“I’m pretty happy to be going back to the tracks that I’ve scored a win at,” said Hamilton, whose NNS wins came at Phoenix, Memphis, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Chicago. “Plus, I’m excited to get back to tracks like Salem Speedway. I ran there at the start of my career. It’s going to be like being a kid again when I go back to that place.”

Hamilton began his racing career in ARCA in 1998 and 1999, acquiring five top-five finishes in eight total starts while driving for Sadler Brothers Racing, of which Carter was a part of at the time.

“It’s a great series with a bunch of competitive teams,” Hamilton said. “I would love to finish in the top-10 in driver points for 2014. I want to run the series until I retire and hopefully score a bunch of victories along the way. ARCA brings my career full-circle. It’s sort of like going back home.”

Hamilton’s father, Bobby Sr., captured the 2004 Camping World Truck Series championship before passing away following a year-long battle with cancer in 2007.

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NHRA: Antron Brown on verge of earning 50th career Top Fuel win this weekend at Phoenix

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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When you’re used to winning championships – like three in the previous five seasons – any other season finish is disappointing.

That’s kind of how NHRA Top Fuel dragster driver Antron Brown looked at his fourth-place showing in the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“At the end of the day, we had a very competitive season last year and made it to 10 final rounds,” Brown said. “But we got into the Countdown (NHRA’s six-race playoffs) and our timing was off.

“We struggled with a lot of problems we don’t usually have. Now it’s time for a new chapter for this team and time to get better. This is a new beginning for us and it’s going to be fun and exciting and we’re coming after them.”

Antron Brown hugs the NHRA Top Fuel championship trophy after winning it in 2016. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Brown had a good start to 2018, reaching the semifinals before losing to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“We had a great performance at Pomona and I couldn’t be more proud of what our Matco/Toyota guys did,” Brown said. “Now we are going to Phoenix where we’ve won three times (2009, 2012 and 2014, and was runner-up in 2011) and we’ll just try to hit it hard and get a fourth.”

Next up on the NHRA 24-race national event circuit is the second race of the season, this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix (Chandler, Arizona).

Brown has definite plans to make it four wins in Phoenix. And if he does that Sunday, he’ll set a significant career milestone: it would be his 50th career win driving a Top Fueler and the 66th win overall (he won 16 races in Pro Stock Motorcycle before shifting from two to four wheels).

In so doing, Brown would become only the fourth Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to hit the 50-win mark. The others are Tony Schumacher (83), Larry Dixon (62) and Joe Amato (52).

This will be the second time Brown has been racing in Phoenix this month. He was part of the preseason test there for Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock cars a week before the season began.

“Testing went really well there,” said Brown, leaving him optimistic that he can reach victory circle once again. “I love going back to Phoenix.”

Brown has been the most dominant driver in NHRA Top Fuel competition since 2012, winning more than twice the number of races (34) than the next most successful Top Fuel driver (16 by Schumacher) in that time period.

He also has a 71 percent overall win percentage, which exceeds both eight-time Top Fuel champ Schumacher and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force.

“I’m just pumped up, feeling like we’ve got some unfinished business from last year,” Brown said. “We had a good outing but didn’t close the deal, so this year, we’re looking forward to getting back there and getting off to a great start.”

NOTES: Brown will serve as honorary pace car driver for the March 4th Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas. He’ll be joined by teammates Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett in a weekend full of activities that they’ll all be involved in.

“I’m really excited,” Brown said. “It’s going to be my first experience as a pace car driver, and I’m just super stoked to go out there and drive the Camry pace car for Pennzoil and start those NASCAR boys off the right way. Throttle down, pedal to the metal. I just want them to get off to a great start.”

Brown has won four times at The Strip, the drag strip adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an honor to be out there with such talented drivers, and I know I’m going to really enjoy watching our NASCAR counterparts.”

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