Progress evident as Hamilton's recovery continues

Updated: August 12, 2006, 7:52 PM ET
Associated Press

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. -- Bobby Hamilton worked in the garage Saturday and tended to his three entries in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

It was the latest step in recovery from head and neck cancer for the 2004 truck series champion.

Hamilton was diagnosed with the disease in February and has not raced since March 5, shortly before undergoing treatment that ended last month.

"I'm here to watch the race and I feel great," he said in a pre-race news conference.

Hamilton's voice was noticeably weak, one of many harsh side effects, according to his oncologist, Barbara Murphy of Vanderbilt University.

"Bobby has been through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and he's done very well. Patients with this type of cancer are really hit hard and the side effects are extreme," she said. "We work to minimize the effects but we can't avoid them."

Hamilton's most recent CAT scan was last week. Murphy will not see the results until this week, but she said a colleague said they look good. Murphy declined to offer a prognosis.

"At this point in his treatment, we don't see anything that looks suspicious," the doctor said.

Hamilton, who fields three Dodge trucks, has returned to work at Bobby Hamilton Racing in Mt. Juliet.

"I don't dwell on my condition," he said. "We have 50-60 people at our shop, and I have to get back to business."

These days he typically arrives at the office at noon.

"I tend to contracts and other business matters. When they get back from lunch, I go to the fab shop, make my rounds, then go back to my office. If people need me, they come and get me," he said.

He also has traveled to nearby races in recent weeks. He has stated that his goal is to return for the final race of the season at Homestead, Fla., in November.

"Our goal is to get him back," Murphy said, adding that Hamilton has declined VIP treatment.

"I always stop and talk to the other patients at the clinic," Hamilton said. "You feel like you know these people because we all know what each other is going through."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press