HAMLIN SEEKS NEW LIFE IN NORTH CAROLINA by Jeremy Troiano
Former Northwest Champ Has Credentials For The Job
Kevin Hamlin saw this and thought, “if I'm going to make it, my only shot is moving to North Carolina.”
So Hamlin packed it all up, brought he and his wife to the Concord (NC) area and is ready to take his next step in the world of motorsports.
"I've accomplished all I could accomplish in the northwest," Hamlin said. "We packed everything we had in a cube van and moved to North Carolina. I left behind a really good ride and an equally good job to come down here with nothing more than a dream to get a competitive ride."
Most people will agree that the Northwest-portion of the country isn't really a hotbed for up-and-coming racing talent.
Former NASCAR Truck and Busch Series Champion and current Cup star Greg Biffle is one of the few exceptions. So is Cup rookie and open wheel standout Kasey Kahne. Kahne, however, wasn't really noticed until a move to the Midwest and his dominance in the USAC world. Former Cup driver Chad Little and Derrick Cope are two others.
Hamlin has plenty of credentials. He was a two-time NASCAR Northwest Series champion (2001&2002) and amassed 10 victories, 46 top-five finishes and 51 top-10 finishes. He was the Northwest series´ youngest winner at age 19 in 1999 and was named the Most Popular Driver for three consecutive years from 2001 to 2003.
At the end of the 2003 season, he gave up his ride in hopes to further his racing career. Unlike most racers these days, Hamlin gave up the ride early so the team could have adequate time to find a replacement.
Kevin Hamlin did what he could in the Northwest Series... and is now looking for more. (51 Photos)
“They were good to me and they gave me a shot, so I felt I owed it to them to be fair back to them,” said Hamlin of his former DS Racing team.
Hamlin, only 25 years-of-age, has been focused on finding other opportunities in the motorsports world. He would like to take the same path as his friend Brendan Gaughan, starting in the NASCAR Truck Series and moving up into the Cup Series eventually.
“It is hard to be out of a race car,” added Hamlin, who has been trying to keep busy since the move. “You want to be racing and being out of a race car isn't a whole lot of fun, but I'm doing what I need to do. Right now, I'm just focused on finding something and seeing where it goes from there.”
Hamlin gave up a good ride to continue his dream of making it to the Cup level.
Hamlin has received some tentative offers, but is spending 2004 evaluating his options before jumping in with both feet.
"I want to make sure when I do take a ride, it´s the right fit for me," he said. "I have talked to several team owners in both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Busch Series, and there has been some interest there.
“When you come from a championship background, there are high expectations to come in and pick up right where you left off. I want to be able to bring that experience to the right organization, so that is what I am going to spend the rest of this year doing, getting to know the teams down here and figure out where the best fit will be."
In the meantime, Hamlin has been staying sharp, and gaining a new perspective on how races play out from outside the cockpit, by spotting for Truck Series driver Shane Hmiel and Southeast Series rookie standout J.R. Norris.
"It is a whole new perspective, that´s for sure. It´s interesting to listen to Shane say some of the same things I have said and see how that translates visually on the racetrack. When I am screaming 'it´s loose,' now I know what the crew chief and the spotter are seeing.
“It´s funny, because I also know what my spotter goes through when I make some of those moves out on the track! It´s been a lot of fun working with Shane so far. This is a team sport, and I am a team player. I´d really like to be out there competing against him, but at the same time, when I am up on the spotters stand, there is nothing I would like more than to help bring Shane home to victory lane."