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By Hartsville Vidette Staff Reporter

Coming off a 12th-place finish at Atlanta, Bobby Hamilton Jr. heads to Phoenix this week, a track where he won a NASCAR Busch Series race in 2003.
Hamilton Jr., driving the No. 08 Fastenal Dodge for his father’s Mt. Juliet-based Craftsman Truck Series team, started the Atlanta race 23rd before the strong finish. He and teammate Chase Miller will attempt to qualify at 12:15 p.m. Friday. The Casino Arizona 150 goes green on the one-mile oval at 7:15 p.m. It will be televised live on Speed.
Hamilton Jr. beat out Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Joe Nemechek and Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the Nov. 1, 2003 Busch race. He led 120 of 181 laps.
“I remember that we were really good that day,” Hamilton Jr. recalled. “The car was awesome to drive. It turned in the middle really good, we had good forward bite, which always plays a big role there. I was able to set cars up in Turns 3 and 4. I could get the car to the bottom, get back on the gas and work by someone. I tend to like that end of the racetrack better for passing.”
Working the corners is key to success the Valley of the Sun, Hamilton Jr. said.
“You have to get your truck to turn well in the middle of the corner at Phoenix,” said Hamilton Jr., who will make his first truck start on the one-mile oval. “It is no big track. It is not brain surgery. The guy that gets his truck to rotate in the center so he can get back on the gas quicker is going to be the truck to beat there. Hopefully we can get our Fastenal Dodge handling well, get it to rotate and get on the throttle when we need to.
“When you have a really good handling vehicle at Phoenix it is a really fun place to race. I am looking forward to this weekend.”
Miller will also be making his first start at Phoenix International Raceway. He qualified 20th and finished 30th at Atlanta.
“I have experience on similar tracks,” Miller said. “I have heard it is a really fun track to race on, but it is unique. It can be trick and I was told some drivers have a hard time figuring the place out. I sure hope that’s not my case.
“I was reading the other day it has two very distinct different corners and a dogleg on the back straightaway that is almost a corner in itself. I think it will be necessary to have strong horsepower to run well.”