Complete Preseason Thunder Coverage
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Bobby Hamilton Jr. believes he is right where he belongs. Two weeks after his father and 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton Sr. passed away from head and neck cancer, Hamilton Jr. was behind the wheel of the No. 35 Team Rensi Motorsports Ford during Busch Series testing at Daytona International Speedway. "I'm glad to be back," Hamilton Jr. said. "I walked into the garage and told my wife (Stephanie), this is where I'm supposed to be. Pretty much my whole career has been in the Busch Series. With everything we've been dealing with I was glad to get to the race track where I don't have to answer phone and do everything else. "It's silly to say you are at work and relaxing at the same time. There was no easier moment than putting up that window net. I was like, now I can go do my deal." Hamilton Jr. also believes he is with the right team in the NASCAR Busch Series. Between 2002-04, the Team Rensi-Hamilton Jr. partnership produced five victories, four poles and two top-10 finishes in the championship standings. Towards the end of the 2004 season, Hamilton Jr. made the move to the NEXTEL Cup Series with PPI Motorsports and the No. 32 Tide Ford. But Hamilton Jr. never found any success with PPI Motorsports. In 2006, he filled in for his ailing father in the No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge for most of the season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "We had our best success together," Hamilton Jr. said of Team Rensi. "Of course after we separated, neither one of us have had success. We've tried to go back and rekindled that I guess." Hamilton Jr. believes that he and Team Rensi can produce successful results again. "Whether it's going to be a home run from the green flag at Daytona, it's like anything else, it's a building process," Hamilton Jr. said. "We will build it. I think after having the drought of success that I had the last two years, nothing burns more than to run good and take home trophies." Wild ride for Almirola: Aric Almirola cut a right rear tire on his No. 18B Chevrolet and took a wild ride down the Superstretch where he ended up on his roof. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was not injured in the incident. "Our right rear tire shredded apart and those things don't ride real good on the inner liner," Almirola said. "It got loose and got sideways. I don't know what happened after that. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again all I saw was sparks on the race track. "We got upside down and I was fine. I was sliding around and I was talking to my guys on the roof telling them I was fine and then as soon as I hit the grass it just dug in and started flipping. I'm just really thankful for all the precautionary measures that NASCAR takes with all its safety equipment because I'm walking back to the trailer, probably going to clean up and go home." Fastest of the day: The second wave of Busch Series arrived on Sunday to kick off their first of three days of testing for the Feb. 17 Orbitz 300 season opener while the first wave of teams wrapped up their third and final day. Jamie McMurray posted two of the top three speeds in Sunday's morning qualifying testing session. In the No. 37A Ford, McMurray turned the fastest lap of the morning session with a lap of 184.219 mph. He posted the third fastest lap in the No. 37B Ford with a lap of 183.206. In the afternoon drafting session, Indy Racing League star Sam Hornish Jr. was the fastest in the No. 12B Penske Racing Dodge with a lap of 187.833 mph while Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears was second fastest with a lap of 187.309 mph in the No. 24A Chevrolet. "I feel pretty good about it," Mears said. "We got a good draft. We got a good run but I feel like we got the car working pretty good there by the end of the day and it sucked up real well. We seemed to be able to go to the front of
the pack. There wasn't much of a pack. There were probably six or eight cars at most but it seemed like we were able to get up and through there pretty well. I'm excited about it." Speedweeks 2007 tickets available: Tickets for Speedweeks 2007 events, including the 49th annual Daytona 500, are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or by logging onto www.racetickets.com
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