Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27, 1997 - Hamilton Rolls At The Rock

October 27, 1997: Exactly one year after Bobby Hamilton raced the #43 STP Petty Enterprises Pontiac to a win in the Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix, he again piloted the 43 to a win - his second and final one with the Petty team - in the AC Delco 400 at Rockingham.

With his win, Hamilton got some measure of redemption from Rockingham after a heartbreaking bump-and-run by Dale Earnhardt in the 1996 GM Goodwrench 400. In great racing rarely seen anymore in the Cup series, Hamilton and Earnhardt traded the lead back and forth over the course of several laps (pick up video around 10 minute mark). The familiar nudge from the bumper of the black 3 then made its appearance as it was known to do with other drivers (around 12:05), and Hamilton had to wait another day for a victory at The Rock.

The 1997 race, scheduled for Sunday, October 26, was rained out. Instead, the teams raced on Monday the 27th allowing Hamilton to win on the same date in back-to-back years. As he did at Phoenix in 1996, Hamilton qualified poorly with a 28th starting spot. And as was the case in his Phoenix win, he again led very few laps - 37 of 393 - but he led the final 16 to claim the win.

Pole winner Bobby Labonte led 93 laps, second place finisher Dale Jarrett led 73, and third place finisher Ricky Craven (now a NASCAR analyst for ESPN) led the most laps at 139.

In the first half of the 1990s, Kyle Petty frequently dominated Rockingham when driving for SABCO. In 1996, he returned to the family team - kinda of. He formed a Petty Enterprises satellite team called pe2 with sponsorship by Hot Wheels. He qualified 5th and led a couple of laps, but he finished two laps down in 22nd.

When the checkers fell, none of that mattered because the 43 was out front and Hamilton was again the victor.

Source: Augusta Chronicle
Source: Kentucky New Era via Google News Archive

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