Kyle Busch controls ARCA RE/MAX Kentucky contenders SPARTA KY (5-10-03) - With a well-polished Hendrick Motorsports team solidly in his corner and former Winston Cup champion crew chief Gary DeHart calling the shots, ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie ...
Kyle Busch controls ARCA RE/MAX Kentucky contenders
SPARTA KY (5-10-03) - With a well-polished Hendrick Motorsports team solidly in his corner and former Winston Cup champion crew chief Gary DeHart calling the shots, ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Kyle Busch had everything he needed to notch another win. The rest was up to him.
Busch, with his older brother and Winston Cup star Kurt Busch among the more than 25,000 fans on hand for the stand-alone event, held up his end of the bargain Saturday night under the lights at Kentucky Speedway with a convincing victory in The Channel 5-205. It was Busch's second consecutive RE/MAX Series win in only his third start. The 18-year-old driver, in the Ditech.com Chevrolet, led 91 of 137 laps and beat four-time series champion and runner-up finisher Frank Kimmel to the checkered flag by more than three seconds.
"Frank (Kimmel) is an exceptional competitor," said Busch after the race. "He is one of the greats. Sometimes he'd take the air out from under me; sometimes I'd take his. I can't credit him enough for racing hard with me and racing me clean. We're here to gain experience and learn as much as we can -- to learn about the racecar and the conditions. It's neat the have the Hendrick organization with its experience and winning tradition."
Kimmel, the only other lap leader, got one final shot at Busch on a late-race restart with 13 laps to go, but when the green flag waved, all Kimmel could do was watch Busch drive away. "We contended with (Kyle) Busch," said Kimmel. "It was a lot of fun running side-by-side with him. I was thinking, 'man if he wasn't here, I wouldn't have to be running as hard.'"
Matt Hagans, who qualified outside pole in his first Kentucky start, steered his own Eagle Creek Aviation Dodge to a career-best third place finish. "We might have tightened our car up a little too much, which probably cost us a couple of tenths (of seconds)," said Hagans. "But that's because we don't have as much experience as the other guys."
Seventeen-year-old Shelby Howard finished fourth in the Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge with Jason Jarrett, in the Biomet-Damon RV Chevrolet, trailing in fifth.
Kimmel, in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, won the Old Milwaukee pole the day before and led at the onset for 14 laps until Busch stepped up and made the pass for the lead. Busch led up through lap 48 before Kimmel made a daring pass for the lead on a restart. Kimmel managed to stay out front for the next 32 laps until Busch passed Kimmel for good on lap 81. Six cautions for 35 laps kept the lead lap machines continually in the game but under green, no drivers had anything for either Busch or Kimmel who dominated the race.
Mark Gibson, in the Williams Brothers Lumber Chevrolet, finished sixth, the last car on the lead lap with Centralia, Illinois veteran Joe Cooksey trailing in seventh in the Vital Communications Chevrolet, one lap down. Second-generation ARCA racer Michael Simko, in his first superspeedway start, finished a solid eighth in the Mound Steel & Supplies Chevrolet ahead of veteran Ron Cox who steered Wayne Hixson's Pontiac to the finish in ninth. Billy Venturini completed the top-ten finishers in the Loctite Chevrolet.
Christi Passmore was credited with the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie honors for her 12th place finish while Keith Murt, who started 26th and finished 14th, earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. Andy Belmont's Verizon crew won the Gladiator of the Race award for overcoming a variety of problems to get Belmont to the finish in 13th.
Former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville, after being involved in a single car incident in qualifying the day before, was treated and released in good condition from a local area hospital after an overnight stay.
The next action for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be under the lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway Thursday night, May 22nd followed up with an immediate short-track war at Berlin Raceway on Saturday, May 24th.
Top-10 ARCA RE/MAX Series points after Kentucky Speedway (5-10-03)
1) Frank Kimmel 1655; 2) Billy Venturini 1425; 3) Jason Jarrett 1410; 4) Ron Cox 1305; 4) Mark Gibson 1305; 6) Shelby Howard 1245; 7) Christi Passmore 1195; 7) Brent Sherman 1195; 9) Bill Eversole 1080; 10) Todd Bowsher 1075.