Hamilton Keeps Streak Alive
October 10, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Hamilton, you see, has started every IRNLS race since the series debuted in 1996. No other driver has done that.
Mid America came to Hamilton’s, and the streak’s, rescue on Tuesday.
Hamilton, from Las Vegas, and Mid America announced that the IRNLS veteran will make his 43rd straight start in Mid America’s No. 43 Dallara/Oldsmobile in the season-ending Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"It's a relief knowing that I'm now racing in the Excite 500, keeping the streak alive," said Hamilton, who becomes the fourth driver to sit behind the wheel of a Mid America car this season. "Being with the Mid America team for this last race is a good thing in that we're both looking for the same thing. We're both looking to finish, and finish with a good result to end the season."
Doug Didero, Scott Harrington and Jaques Lazier have also driven for Mid America in 2000.
Last week, Hamilton told RacingOne.com that he would not jump into a car just to keep his streak alive. He said he wanted to hook up with a "good team."
Hamilton kept his word.
Mid America driver Lazier led eight laps at Kentucky Speedway in August before an engine problem ended his day.
"They're not funded like they need to be, but they put a good car on the race track, and that's important," Hamilton said of Mid America. "The team is excited to have me drive, and that makes it fun.
"We're optimistic that we'll have a good day at Texas."
A good day is something Hamilton needs.
His best finish this year is a 14th place at Pikes Peak.
Hamilton, a two-time series runner-up, last week signed on to drive the entire 2001 IRNLS season with Treadway/Hubbard Racing.
Although that deal did nothing to ensure that Hamilton would have a ride in the season finale, Jim Work of Treadway/Hubbard told RacingOne.com last week that the team was helping Hamilton find a ride for the Texas race. Mid America was one of the teams rumored to be interested in Hamilton.
"I'm headed to Texas, the last race, with a feeling of relief," Hamilton said. "For the first time in my Indy Racing career, I know what I'll be doing next year. That'll help me focus on the race.
"I'm really excited about next year. With Treadway-Hubbard Racing, I'll be testing a few weeks after Texas. I'm used to just showing up to the track and racing. Testing, especially through the winter, will allow me to get comfortable with the car and the crew.
"So when we show up at the first race in Phoenix, we'll be ready to race."
Rookie Morioka Secures Ride: Tri Star Motorsports has fielded an entry for rookie Zak Morioka.
Morioka, 21, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, dominated the U.S. F2000 series in 1997, winning the overall and oval crown championships
He will make his IRNLS debut in the No. 21 Tri Star Motorsports Dallara/Oldsmobile as a teammate to Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year contender Jeret Schroeder.
Tony Stewart, the 1996-97 Indy Racing champion, is a co-owner of the Tri Star team.
When Morioka shows up at Texas, he’ll see some familiar faces.
1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee and rookie standout Sam Hornish Jr. also competed in the F2000 series in 1997.