2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Kemenah Concord, NC-- November 28, 2008--After having one of the most trying seasons of his career in 2007, Chad Kemenah could not wait for the 2008 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series campaign to kick...
2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Kemenah
Concord, NC-- November 28, 2008--After having one of the most trying seasons of his career in 2007, Chad Kemenah could not wait for the 2008 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series campaign to kick off. He started the year on a very strong note, picking up Top-10 finishes in the first two events of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park to solidly place himself in the Top-10 in the championship standings as the series left the Sunshine State. He would remain among the Top-10 for the rest of the season.
In his first full year behind the wheel for the Hard 8 Racing team owned by Oklahoma native Jon Kantor, Kemenah finished ninth in points, just 10 markers out of eighth. He racked up 37 Top-10 finishes, with 13 of those being in the Top-Five. His best finish of the season was a second at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton during the Gold Rush Tour in August, in his first career visit to the 3/8-mile north of the border.
Kemenah also picked up four third-place finishes, with one of those being in the famed Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in his home state of Ohio. He also finished on the podium at the legendary Williams Grove Speedway in the Summer Nationals, where he led 18 laps. It was the first time in his career that he led at the famed half-mile. In addition to this, he was also third on the opening night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in California, as well at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania during the series first East Coast swing of the season.
"It was a really good year," said Kemenah. "We wanted to win and nearly did. At the beginning of the year, I told Jon (Kantor) that I wanted to figure out how to run in the Top-10 with these guys every night and finish in the Top-10 in points, after the last couple of years that we have had. For the first time with this team being together, I was pretty happy."
After driving a couple of different cars in 2007, including his own for a portion of the season, the native of Findlay, Ohio joined Hard 8 Racing about halfway through last season and the team began testing different combinations as they geared up for their first full season together this year. Having the stability of being in the same car for the whole year, Kemenah was able to focus completely on racing and not have to worry about the business side of running a team and knew he had the resources to compete night in and night out for wins.
"Anytime that you do not own your own race car and do not have to worry about paying the bills and getting from race track to race track is a big plus," he said with a smile. "Jon has been great as a car owner and really it's like a dream come true to have a car owner like him. We had a lot of fun this year and have to get better for next year."
For a majority of the 2008 season it was just Kemenah and his nephew AJ as the crew on the No. 8K. Kemenah drove the truck and trailer and did a lot of the work at the track and daily maintenance on the car himself. They welcomed Adam Brough, a fellow native of Ohio, to the crew during the heat of the summer and Kemenah continued to run strong, picking up 12 Top-10 finishes in a 15-race span, after adding an extra set of hands to the team.
"It helped a lot when Adam came out," noted the 2006 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "It was AJ and myself for a couple of months on our own. It seemed to take a load off AJ and me both, when Adam came out. Everything seemed to work a little easier after that."
Kemenah came close to winning a couple of times this season. In addition to leading laps in the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove, he also paced the field at Wilmot Speedway in Wisconsin, after setting fast time in qualifying, winning a heat race and finishing second in the Crane Cams Dash in that event. He was quickest in time trials on four occasions in 2008, in addition to winning the Crane Cams Dash twice to earn pole positions in A-Feature events. Kemenah also was among the Top-10 in laps led this season.
"We were hoping that one of those Top-Fives would turn into a win, but if we hang out around there enough we'll start winning," he said. "Once we start winning, hopefully we can repeat that quite a bit."
Kemenah, who is one of the hardest working and most hands-on drivers in the pit area, made most of his own calls on set-up throughout the season. Another benefit for the team was utilizing engines built by Kemenah's father-in-law, Hall of Famer Bob Hampshire.
"It's so hard to put one of these deals together," explained the four-time All Star Circuit of Champions title winner. "We didn't have what you would really call a crew chief that went with us night in and night out. It was a lot on the telephone with me and my father-in-law. It makes it harder sometimes, but also easier sometimes. Next year we are hoping to get that so-called crew chief."
Kemenah and his team are busy preparing for the 2009 World of Outlaws season in his home state of Ohio. The team moved from Oklahoma to Ohio last off-season, which allowed them to stop back at the shop during a number of times during the season to regroup and stock up on parts and pieces. Kemenah will also have some time in the off-season to spend with his wife and two young children.
"We don't get a lot of time to rest and relax," he said. "I do a lot of this stuff myself, since we don't have an abundance of people. Our days of rest and relaxation are few and far between."
The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.