2007 World of Outlaws Season Review: Chad Kemenah
Perseverance and determination characterized Chad Kemenah's season with the World of Outlaws in 2007. He showed why he is a multi-time sprint car champion, as he dealt with adversity to complete his second full season with the series. Over the course of the nearly 80-race campaign, he had a number of strong runs and also endured a rash of bad luck.
Through it all, he stayed focused on the task at hand and put in countless hours in the shop and at the track, making sure he was always prepared for the next race on schedule.
"We did all right," said the reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "There are definitely a lot of things that need to be worked on. All in all for the way the circumstances were, things worked out."
With one of the strongest fields of cars ever assembled for an entire World of Outlaws season, Kemenah finished a very respectable17th in championship points. He set fast time at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York on Memorial Day, turning a lap nearly a half-second faster than the nearest competitor. He also raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash 13 times to earn 13 Top-10 starting positions in A-Feature events.
"I would say without a doubt this was the most competitive season ever," said Kemenah, driver of the Kantor Oil Company Maxim. "There were 25 race cars every night that had a shot to win. Overall it was a real tough season for everyone."
Kemenah started out the season driving for Premier Motorsports until the team ceased operations after the first West Coast swing of the year, forcing him to field his own car. In just his sixth race in his own car, Kemenah earned a season best third-place finish at Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky. He finished the season in the No. 8K car, driving for Hard Eight Racing owner Jon Kantor, after Zach Chappell sustained a severe knee injury that required extensive surgery in July.
Driving for the first-year World of Outlaws teams, Kemenah was paired with veteran crew chief Ray Brooks. In just his fourth race with the team, the determined driver finished ninth in the famed Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
"We drove too many race cars this season and that is tough," noted the native of Findlay, Ohio. "You have to put something together and stay together and grow as a team. If you keep changing it's tough to do that. I have to thank Jon Kantor for giving me the opportunity, when it was probably going to get tough to stay out with my own race car and do my own deal. Jon and his whole family gave me the opportunity to come over here and race this thing. That was a neat scenario for me, though it was unfortunate that Zach got hurt."
Kemenah suffered an injury of his own during the finale of the Knoxville Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Iowa. He was running third in the B-Main, which would have earned him a transfer spot into the A-Feature, when another car make contact with him, which sent Kemenah into a violent flip. He sustained a concussion which would sideline him for the next three World of Outlaws events, including the series inaugural Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton.
"As a race car driver you never want to sit out, but when you get a pretty good bump on the head like that they were pretty adamant that I rest and relax a little bit," he explained. "Sometimes that stuff happens and I would rather have it happen during a season when things aren't on the up. Thanks goodness we weren't leading the points or anything like that, because that would have made it even harder."
Kemenah returned to action at Skagit Speedway in Washington during the Gold Rush Tour and the team debuted a new truck and trailer that they purchased from Toni Lutar Racing out of Canada. In fact, the team purchased all of the assets of Lutar's team, giving them extra cars and engines to finish the season with.
"That was a good thing," Kemenah said of the purchase. "It did add some pressure to the team to sell off some of the stuff we had, but we have a whole off-season to do that. It added some extra work, but in the long run it will probably be a good deal."
One of the highlights of the season for Kemenah was a strong run at K-C Raceway in his home state of Ohio during the "SuperClean Summer of Money" on ESPN2. He battled two-time defending World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz along with 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, Craig Dollansky and eventual winner Terry McCarl for the lead on several occasions. A number of yellow flags interrupted his quest for the win. After taking the lead once, the yellow flag flew, negating the pass for the lead. A third-place performance would match his season-best finish.
Gearing up for the 2008 season, it was announced in late August that Kemenah would remain in the No. 8K for Hard Eight Racing for another season with the World of Outlaws. After driving three different cars this season, that helps ease his mind heading into the off-season.
"Whenever you have an idea that you will be driving something the following year and not having to job search it certainly makes you feel better," he commented. "We'll just take each day as it comes and try to get better."
After nine-plus months on the road this season, Kemenah was more than ready to return home after the Outlaws World Finals to spend some time with his wife and children. With plenty of work to do during the off-season, February and the start of the new season will be here before he knows it.
"After this year, it's probably everybody's thing to rest and relax," he smiled. "You have to get your wits back about yourself. This year was kind of tough on everybody. We'll try to get regrouped in the off-season and be ready for next year."