HAMPTON, GEORGIA, July 17, 1999 - Stockbridge, Georgia resident Jimmy Kite came to a race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) for the first time as a child with his father, Gary. He returned to race at AMS in 1998 competing in an ARCA stock car.
HAMPTON, GEORGIA, July 17, 1999 - Stockbridge, Georgia resident Jimmy Kite came to a race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) for the first time as a child with his father, Gary. He returned to race at AMS in 1998 competing in an ARCA stock car. Kite missed the first Pep Boys Indy Racing League event held here in 1998 due to events out of his control. He returned, in full control, to his local super-speedway to wheel the #30 G Force/ Aurora around the 1.54 mile facility in front of his hometown crowd. He leaves the track with a solid top-ten finish, a ninth, and knowing that he has made a dream come true.
"Last year, missing this race, it hurt. I wanted to be out there so bad," said the 23 year old, "This is such an important race to me. I've dreamed of running this track in these cars."
He made the most of this important weekend. Kite, born in Effingham Illinois, qualified for the Kobalt Tools 500k race in 11th at a time of 25.376 seconds (212.799 mph). The veteran dirt tracker had not previously driven the Bruton Smith owned track in an Indy car but found his groove early in practice and continued to show that he is a contender every time the green flag falls despite a nearly year-long absence from the IRL.
The #30 fell a lap off the pace when on an early race pit stop the Oldsmobile Aurora V8 stalled as he entered pit lane. The team was forced to re-start the car losing valuable time and dropped the local favorite a lap behind the leader. While lapping at speeds quicker than those of the race leaders - Kite would turn the third fastest race lap overall - he struggled to race his way back onto the leader's lap. It was not to be as Kite would finish one lap down.
Kite - a champion in seven different racing series during his career - was disappointed, physically exhausted but mentally thrilled while talking with the dozens of fans, friends and family surrounding the local 'boy' following the race. "If it hadn't been for that stall we'd been there. I could run away from anyone. There were a lot of times when they [other drivers] were six or seven in a draft and couldn't catch us. This car was awesome. The guys gave me an awesome, awesome race car. And I'll promise you this, I'll never stall this car again!"
With his ninth place finish Kite moves up to 25th in the season-long driver's standings with 48 points. He breaks into the top-25 despite missing the first three events of the 1999 season.
Kite will next be seen competing in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League at Dover Downs International Speedway on August 1. Television coverage will be provided live on FOX Sports at 3 p.m. (Eastern).