Jimmy Kite Takes Top-10 PRA Finish at Illiana Debut After Thrilling Come-from-Behind Run SCHERERVILLE, IND., June 14, 2006 -- Jimmy Kite took an eighth-place finish at Illiana Motor Speedway on Tuesday night in the Premier Racing Association...
Jimmy Kite Takes Top-10 PRA Finish at Illiana Debut After Thrilling Come-from-Behind Run
SCHERERVILLE, IND., June 14, 2006 -- Jimmy Kite took an eighth-place finish at Illiana Motor Speedway on Tuesday night in the Premier Racing Association (PRA) Big Car Series debut at the track. For a driver who wants nothing more than to win, a top-ten may seem like a disappointment but, after the string of events that culminated in the eighth-place, the IndyCar veteran will happily celebrate it. As has seemed to become his hallmark, the driver from Stockbridge, Ga. had to overcome multiple obstacles to cross the finish line in the brand new series. However, when the checkered flag flew on the South Shore 125, Kite had run as high as sixth in the No. 5 Westcon Elevator/ Westcon Racing Bloomer Engines Beast and put on a driving exhibition in a masterful come-from-behind charge. The event at the Schererville, Ind. half-mile oval was the debut for the Series made-up of former Silver Crown Series cars at any track after rain stopped activities at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) last month.
Kite's weekend got off to a hot start... literally. Pulling out for his first practice laps, a fuel leak caused the red and yellow machine to catch fire. While Kite was in no danger and the flames were quickly extinguished, the magneto on the V8 Bloomer engine had been destroyed by the fire. The No. 5 missed the practice session to make repairs. Adding the stress of the moment, longtime spotter Dan Berg got a piece of debris, not associated with Westcon car, in his eye. The eye swelled shut keeping him from spotting for Kite the remainder of the night. Kite called on friend and fellow driver Dane Carter, son of IndyCar Racing legend Pancho Carter, to spot for him in the race. Hoping that the worst was behind him, the 1997 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year lined-up 13th to take the green flag.
Kite immediately jumped into the Top-10 when the race started. However, cruel fate would throw one more thing at the 30 year-old driver. On lap ten, the car mysteriously jumped out of gear and Kite coasted to the stop. He was able to get it started again but had fallen to the back of the field. Like a man on a mission that he was, the five-time Indy 500 starter began slicing through traffic in a scene reminiscent of his come-from-behind win, as a rookie, at the prestigious Copper World Classic in 1997. He fought his was as high as sixth by lap 100. With 25 laps to go, the tires on the Ron and Kevin Bloomstran-owned ride were worn beyond use. Kite was a sitting duck. He held his own for sometime but would relinquish two positions in the closing stages of the race.
"I just used the car up coming back through the field," said Kite amongst the congratulations on a race well run. "The track was tough to pass on because it was really, really flat. So, it took a lot to get around someone. There were also a lot of really good cars in this field; some really big names. So, at the end, the Westcon car just didn't have anything left in it. I lost two positions those last 25 laps. But, it was a good run. It was a terrible, terrible night that turned out alright. I'm not sure how considering the fire, Dan's eye, the car jumping out of gear. It just seemed like everything was working against us but I guess we just wanted this one more than bad luck wanted it."
Kite and the Westcon Elevator crew will now return to Indianapolis Raceway Park on July 5th. While it will be a new weekend-- Kite had practiced in the top-five and qualified tenth there in May-- the team is confident they will pick up where they left off.
Kite currently sits eighth in PRA points with five of the original seven races on the schedule remaining.