2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Kemenah Concord, NC--Nov. 24, 2006 -- Chad Kemenah entered the 2006 season with plenty of momentum. After all, he had claimed the previous four All Star Circuit of Champions titles. He also was...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Kemenah
Concord, NC--Nov. 24, 2006 -- Chad Kemenah entered the 2006 season with plenty of momentum. After all, he had claimed the previous four All Star Circuit of Champions titles. He also was fulfilling a lifelong dream to compete full-time with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series.
After leading all 25 laps and winning the season opener at Volusia Speedway Park in February, he firmly established himself as the man to beat for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. He also solidly put himself in the Top-10 in points.
When the final checkered flag flew on the season, Kemenah was seventh in the overall championship standings, and claimed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, on the strength of 27 Top-10 finishes.
"We had a lot of fun out there for the first year," said Kemenah, driver of the Underground Utilities Inc./RacinSoles.com Eagle. "We also learned a lot. We had some highs and lows. We won the first race of the season and that may have been good and bad. I am pretty proud of the team, all the guys stuck with me. It seemed like for a while that every time we went out, we were wrecking something, but they never gave up. We had a lot of fun, and we look forward to getting the opportunity to come out here and do this again."
Kemenah made sure not to get overconfident after winning the season opener. He knew there was still eight more months of racing and countless laps to turn. This was evident the very next night, when he raced his way into the A-Feature, where he would finish ninth, after winning the B-Main to earn a transfer position.
"I am not naïve," Kemenah commented, when reflecting on the win at Volusia to open the 2006 season. "Lady Luck just went our way that night. You don't know what to expect, that win probably put the expectations up that much higher for everyone on the team by winning the first race."
With an average of 41 cars at each event this season, Kemenah had to be on top of his game each and every night. He stopped the clock first in time trials on three different occasions, including at the season opener, where he won the dash to earn the pole position. He also set fast time at the famed Manzanita Speedway on the wicked-fast Arizona half-mile, as the season wound down.
"The competition was every bit as tough as I imagined it would be," commented Kemenah. "Not only the competition, but also driving up and down the road, as well as seeing new tracks that you had never seen before. That is probably the biggest difference for me and my brother (Brian) working together. We're so used to going to the same race tracks so many times in a season, and there are probably 40-50 race tracks out here that we had never seen before. It was a good learning experience for us both, and hopefully we can improve on what we did."
Kemenah continued his early season surge with a strong fourth-place finish at USA Race Park in Tucson in early March. He backed that up the following weekend with two solid finishes at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Another highlight for Kemenah and his team was two separate visits to New York. While in the Empire State, he turned a string of bad luck around, racking up three Top-10 finishes. He was eighth at Orange County Fair Speedway, ninth at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, and fifth at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
While he entered the season with plenty of experience at the tracks in his native Ohio and around the Midwest, Kemenah had to quickly get up to speed at the numerous facilities he was visiting for the first time in 2006. On most nights, he had a handful of laps to learn the track before time trials.
"It is a big deal (not getting many laps to practice at a new track)," explained Kemenah. "You think of all race tracks being the same, and just a little different, but they're not. You see the guys like Donny (Schatz), Craig (Dollansky), Daryn (Pittman), and Jac (Haduenschild) and they have raced these tracks for so long, that they just know what to expect. All in all, I think we had a pretty good year. I would have liked to have been better, but we tore up so many race cars in the middle of the season, it seemed liked it would never stop. We made it to the end of the season and that was my goal. I wanted to do this thing, and I wanted to do it for one whole year. We got that accomplished."
For the first time in his racing career, Kemenah was able to head to the Pacific Northwest at the end of August as well as to California as part of the Gold Rush Tour for the World of Outlaws. After a fifth-place run at Nodak (N.D.) Speedway in his first ever visit to the racy 3/8-mile oval, it took Kemenah a little longer to get to Skagit (Wash.) Speedway than planned, due to transmission problems with his tow rig.
After some help from Jason Martin's team and a repairman, Kemenah and his team led by his brother/crew chief Brian arrived at Skagit. The trip paid big dividends as the native of Findlay, Ohio was fifth in the preliminary feature and backed that up with another fifth in the finale on the tight bullring.
In his first visit to the Golden State, Kemenah turned in a solid 10th-place performance in the finale of the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway. He wrapped up the Gold Rush Tour with finishing ninth on the first night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway, and was 10th in the finale.
"It was great getting to go to the West Coast," said Kemenah. "I had never been out there, and we had a lot of fans come up to the car and say that they were glad we made it out there. We're really grateful for everyone at DIRT MotorSports for giving us the opportunity to do this."
Wrapping the season up in the desert, Kemenah turned in three more solid performances to cap his award winning freshman campaign. He was seventh at USA Race Park, before finishing ninth in the preliminary feature at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and 10th in the season finale.
Just as he was busy all season, the always cordial driver will be just as busy in the off-season, not only preparing for 2007, but also spending time with his family.
"We'll go home and I have a little one on the way in December and that will keep me occupied for a while," he said. "We can get some things accomplished and be out here doing this again."
Next Up: The series of season reviews for the Top-15 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series continues with Brooke Tatnell.