, the longtime NASCAR driver who won the 2001 Talladega 500 and was the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series champion, died yesterday of cancer in Nashville, Tenn., said
, a family friend who co-hosted a radio show with him. Hamilton was 49. He was at home with his family when he died, said Allison, the widow of former NASCAR star
Hamilton was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in February. A malignant growth was found when swelling from dental surgery did not go down.
Hamilton raced in the first three truck races of the season before turning over the wheel to his son, Bobby Jr. The senior Hamilton then started chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
By August, he had returned to work at Bobby Hamilton Racing, and doctors indicated his CAT scans looked good. But microscopic cancer cells remained on the right side of his neck.
Hamilton, born in Nashville in 1957, drove in all of NASCAR's top three divisions, making 371 starts and winning four times in what is now the Nextel Cup series. He won 10 truck races and one Busch Series race.
Hamilton's Nextel Cup wins, in addition to Talladega, came at Phoenix, Rockingham and Martinsville. His best season was in 1996 when he finished ninth in the points standings.
Hamilton drove in the top-level NASCAR series from 1989 to 2005, earning $14.3 million and racing to 20 top-five finishes. He became a full-time driver-owner in the truck series in 2003.
* Randy Johnson agreed to a $26 million, 2-year contract with Arizona, leaving only physicals and final approvals to complete his trade from the New York Yankees back to the Diamondbacks. Johnson most likely will take his physical today, and the trade probably will be finalized tomorrow.
* Infielder Miguel Cairo decided to remain with the Yankees, reaching a preliminary agreement on a $750,000, 1-year contract.
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* Austria's Marlies Schild won her second slalom race in 4 days and her fifth victory in the discipline this World Cup season in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
* Germany's Tobias Angerer won the men's competition and Finland's Virpi Kuitunen took the women's title in the inaugural Tour de Ski race in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
* Russia's Albert Demtchenko won the singles at a luge World Cup event in Koenigssee, Germany, denying Armin Zoeggeler a record 34th win.
* Xavier Malisse won the second title of his career, defeating Stefan Koubek, 6-1, 6-3, in the Chennai (India) Open.