SES: Kentucky: Round five preview

Daytona Beach, FL. (May 30 2003) - The Kentucky Derby is synonymous with horse racing and the Kentucky Wildcats are synonymous with basketball for their respective cities of Louisville and Lexington, Ky. Another Kentucky town becoming very famous...

Daytona Beach, FL. (May 30 2003) - The Kentucky Derby is synonymous with horse racing and the Kentucky Wildcats are synonymous with basketball for their respective cities of Louisville and Lexington, Ky. Another Kentucky town becoming very famous is Sparta, Ky., with its entry into the motorsports world hosting NASCAR racing and other racing series.

The weekend of June 13 -14 will be a busy weekend at the beautiful 1.5-mile oval when the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series visit the eastern Kentucky town.

The Kodak Southeast Series event, The Lexington-Herald Leader presents The Kentucky 150 will run 150 laps with posted awards of $103,528.

Two pretty dominating horses, better known as stock car drivers rather then race horses, with this series in 2002 at Jerry Carroll's outstanding facility were Eddie Mercer and Scott Carlson both from Pensacola, Fla.

Mercer and Carlson dominated both events last year and both will return to Kentucky with one thought in mind and that is to win the last superspeedway event for this series in 2002.

Mercer not only won the June event in 2002, he also started from the pole position. Mercer and Carlson were both strong during the race, which had to be extended two laps after a late race caution, but it was Carlson who earned the distinction of leading the most laps.

When the series returned in August Carlson left no doubt in the minds of race fans and other competitors that superspeedway racing was his fancy as he totally dominated the event. He, like Mercer in June, won the Bud Pole start, led 96 of 100 laps and took his Advance Construction Services/Hamner Engines Chevrolet to victory lane.

"We had two good races at Kentucky last year," commented Carlson. This speedway is without a doubt one of the finest racing facilities I have raced at and with the competition and safety afforded every driver in NASCAR racing on a track this size is fun," continued Carlson from his home in Pensacola.

"I hated it when Eddie (Mercer) lost an engine in his Phoenix Construction/Everwood Wood Treatment car and did not get to even start the race in August. He was strong in June and between the two of us Pensacola, Fla. became well known at Kentucky Speedway."

While Carlson and Mercer can feel good about their accomplishments another driver that is always a threat to stop in victory lane is Jeff Fultz, the defending series champion, with his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet. Fultz finished second in both 2002 races behind Mercer and Carlson which helped propel him to the series championship.

"Superspeedway racing is in the blood of every short track driver," stated Fultz. "I have been very fortunate in my short racing career to win a race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and to compete in some NASCAR Busch Series races. The experienced I gained was invaluable. And I would say my position working in the shop of the NASCAR Winston Cup Jasper Engines and Transmissions team, hanging bodies, has taught me a great deal about aerodynamics and superspeedway racing."

This will be the sixth event for this series at Kentucky. Four different drivers have etched their name in the record books with wins at Kentucky with Fultz winning both races in 2001. Fultz holds the race record for a 100-lap event with a speed of 136.640 mph. Billy Bigley Jr. has the distinction of winning the first ever race at the track when he won the 2000 series event. Mercer and Carlson join these two with their wins last year.

Qualifying for this series was dominated by Brian Smith the first three times they ran at the speed-plant when he set fast time in 2000 then subsequently broke his own mark in the next two events. Carlson now holds the record, set last year, with a speed of 157.274 mph.

Smith is in a new ride this year with the Brock Excavating team. He owns his own business hanging bodies on NASCAR Busch Series team cars. He has also been successful in speedway events but this year has renewed enthusiasm after car owner Steven Brock hired former series champion, Freddie Query, to serve as crew chief for the team.

"Bringing Freddie on board was an excellent addition to this team," said Smith. He has been racing so long and in so many different venues he knows car setup like the back of his hand. He has been so successful in his own right and without a doubt will be a great incentive to my team."

This event is the fourth of a ten race schedule for 2003 but can be pivotal in shaping the series points standing toward the end of year Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (CA) Speedway. The top ten drivers in the final series points in the four NASCAR Elite Divisions will be invited to participate in a televised history making event that will bring national recognition to NASCAR's short track drivers with posted awards of approximately $250,000.

A very tight points battle is looming between Terry Mason Jr, Cecil Chunn, John Wilkinson III and Justin Wakefield for the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year title. Mason posted finishes of 11th and 12th in the two 2002 events at Kentucky while Chunn finished 32nd and 37th respectively. Wakefield, is being tutored by one of the greatest short track drivers in the South, Jody Ridley, a six time series champion.

This will be a televised event by Fox Sports Net and shown on a tape-delayed basis during the week of June 23 - 29.

Action gets underway at Kentucky Speedway for Kodak Southeast Series drivers on Friday, June 12 with practice from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Qualifying will take place at 3:00 p.m. with The Lexington-Herald Leader presents the Kentucky 150 taking the green flag at 9:00 p.m.


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Drivers Billy Bigley , Brian Smith , John Wilkins , Eddie Mercer