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Skinner spins, Hamilton wins

3/14/2004

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Bobby Hamilton passed Mike Skinner in the
final turn, then held on when they bumped coming to the finish line
Saturday to win the inaugural EasyCare 200 for the NASCAR truck
series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Skinner ended up sliding sideways across the line, but still
finished second in front of rookie David Reutimann. Defending
series champ Travis Kvapil was fourth, followed by Matt Crafton.

Hamilton, a former Nextel Cup driver, rallied from a lap down to
get his fifth career victory in the series and the 50th for Dodge.

"I thought I had either sucked the air off his spoiler, or if I
cut him off, he would have come punch me in the nose,'' Hamilton
quipped. "When he hit me, he turned me left, and I just stayed
left. I'd rather go through the grass with him and take a chance on
seeing who gets to the line first.''

A caution for a crash on the frontstretch by Steve Park and
Robert Huffman brought out the caution with two laps left, and
since races in the series can't end under yellow, that left a
two-lap, green-white-checkered dash to the finish.

Skinner, a former series champion, led when the green fell, but
Hamilton slowly closed in until making his move in Turn 4 of the
final lap. He moved to the outside of Skinner's Toyota and pulled
alongside, and as the trucks sped toward the checkered flag, they
bounced off each other.

That led to the spin by Skinner, who slid harmlessly through the
grass before regaining control.

"I tried to get our wheels together, so maybe I'd nudge ahead a
little bit,'' Skinner said. "I guess it just didn't work out.''

A frightening three-truck wreck on lap 46 forced the race to be
stopped for about five minutes and sent the three drivers to the
hospital. Tina Gordon, one of two women in the
race, spun off Turn 2 and slid into the path of Rick Crawford and
Hank Parker Jr. on the backstretch.

Both hit her, and the impact appeared to leave the throttle
stuck on Crawford's Ford. He continued on and slammed into the
outside wall in Turn 3, and the truck eventually came to rest in
the infield grass near the finish line.

Parker ricocheted off Gordon and hit the inside wall. All three
drivers got out of their trucks with some assistance, and were
awake and alert before they were taken to the hospital.

Parker remained in the hospital overnight for further evaluation of a back injury.

Gordon was treated for a fractured fibula. Crawford was treated for a fractured foot. Both were released from the hospital on Saturday.

Also, Joey Clanton was hurt later in the race. His CT scan was negative and he has been discharged.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.