Busch-Whacked in Sparta
Kyle Busch outduels Frank Kimmel
in ARCA race at the Kentucky Speedway
By Don Ward
SPARTA, Ky. (May 10) For three years, Frank Kimmel practically owned the main groove at the Kentucky Speedway.
Kyle Busch, 18, celebrates his
"Channel 5-205" victory at
the Kentucky Speedway.
He had won three of the four ARCA RE/MAX Series races held there. But in mid-May, ARCAs four-time season champion was dethroned yet again by a teenaged driver bent on making history. This time, the young spoiler carried a famous name in auto racing circles. And he was driving some of the best equipment supplied by a well-known name among team owners.
Kyle Busch, who had turned 18 only the previous week, outdueled the 41-year-old Kimmel to win the Channel 5-205 in what could only be described as a two-man race from the start. Busch, the younger brother of Winston Cup Series driver Kurt Busch, was powered by the Hendrick Motorsports racing team as he throttled his ditech.com Chevrolet around the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Kimmel, of Jeffersonville, Ind., won the pole on Friday and took the lead early on Saturday. But only 15 laps into the race, Busch passed Kimmel on the outside. Kimmel followed closely behind, with the third-place-running Matt Hagans running 10 seconds or more behind the two leaders. In fact, only during the few cautions did the field catch the two speedier drivers, never threatening.
Kimmel regained the lead on Lap 49 when he got a good restart off a caution and passed Busch on the front stretch. Several more cautions later, Busch threaded the traffic to retake the lead on Lap 87. He never relinquished his lead after that, holding off Kimmel on several caution restarts, including a final opportunity for Kimmel on the restart of Lap 124 of 137. But Busch powered off the start and held on for the victory before a crowd of 25,486.
Kyle's older brother Kurt
Busch signs autographs.
Hagans, of Brownstown, Ind., placed third and Shelby Howard of Greenwood, Ind. took fourth. Jason Jarrett, son of Winston Cup driver Dale Jarrett, finished fifth, with Mark Gibson in sixth. Only six cars stayed on the lead lap throughout much of the race.
It was a great battle, Busch said later. I enjoyed it a lot. (Kimmel) is one of the greats. I cant credit him enough for being there and racing hard with me and racing clean.
Busch celebrated with his team in Victory Lane, accompanied by his mother and famous
brother, Winston Cup Series driver Kurt Busch. The younger Busch then called his prom date back home in Las Vegas, Nev.
It was the second ARCA race this season that Busch had outran Kimmel. Busch started on the pole and won at Nashville, Tenn., on April 11. His victory in Sparta made him the youngest winner in the four-year history of the Kentucky Speedway.
We contended with him, and that was our first goal, said Kimmel following the Sparta race. At Nashville, we couldnt see him at all. This time we passed him a little bit. At one point, we were a half a lap ahead of everyone, and I was thinking, If he wasnt there, I wouldnt have to be running this hard.
Luckily for Kimmel, Busch plans to compete in only seven ARCA races this year, while entering six Busch Series events upon turning 18. He plans to join the Busch Series full time in 2004.
Busch said he did not plan to compete in the Busch Series race in June at Kentucky because he wanted to experience as many different tracks as possible this year in preparation for his fulltime Busch schedule next year. In all, he plans to enter 14 events at 13 different tracks this year.
Im trying to gain as much experience as I can to get ready for Busch next year, he said. We want to learn all we can about the tracks, the set-up, everything.
The race had six cautions, resulting in 35 laps under yellow. Several top ARCA drivers had trouble early, bowing out to either engine trouble or collisions with other drivers.
Veteran driver Vern Slagh was an early casualty, bowing out on Lap 24 because of problems resulting from a spin on Lap 11. Brent Sherman, who qualified third, was forced out of the race on Lap 44 when his car stalled on the backstretch and began to smoke. Fuel caught fire and emergency vehicles responded.
Chase Montgomery, who had been running in the top five most of the night, was forced to garage after Lap 53 because of engine problems. London, Ky., driver Jamie Mosley took a disappointing early exit after experiencing car trouble. Mosley, a dispatcher at the state police post in London, had alternator problems and pitted on Lap 20.
Kimmel won the first of two ARCA races last season at the Kentucky Speedway, but lost the second race in July to eventual Rookie of the Year Chad Blount, then age 23. Blount finished second behind Kimmel in the May race last year. This year, ARCA is making only the one stop in Sparta.
Earlier on Saturday, Country Music star Tammy Cochran entertained the crowd on the B-105 Country Soundstage on the west concourse. Cochran later joined dignitaries on the stage for driver introductions.
On Friday afternoon, six Winston Cup drivers arrived in Sparta and signed autographs for two hours on the concourse. The group included Ricky Craven, Larry Foyt, Sterling Martin, Jeremy Mayfield, Jamie McMurray and Jimmy Spencer. Parsons also signed autographs, along with some ARCA RE/MAX drivers.
The Channel 5-205 was the first Kentucky Speedway event to feature three female drivers. Kim Crosby, Christi Passmore and Deborah Renshaw successfully qualified for the event. Passmore finished the highest of the trio with a career Kentucky Speedway best of 12th place after qualifying 12th. She moved to seventh in series point standings, trailing leader Kimmel by 410 points. Crosby was next best among the group with a 21st place finish after qualifying 24th. Renshaw posted her second straight top-10 qualifying effort at Kentucky. She started seventh and finished 33rd after retiring from the race on Lap 49 due to a failed valve spring.
Matt Hagans qualified second and finished third, his first top-five performance in three starts this season.
Henryville, Ind.s Darrell Basham started 23d and finished 22nd. The 54-year-old self-employed truck driver started racing in ARCA in 1972 and had 97 starts prior to this season. His career-best seventh place finish in season points was in 1976.
ARCA RE/MAX driver Jerry Glanville was involved in a single-car incident during qualifying on Friday. Glanville was released in good condition from an area hospital on Saturday.
Former Winston Cup champion and TV analyst Benny Parsons served as the events grand marshal then joined Cincinnatis WLWT TV sports anchor Ken Broo in the broadcast booth to call the race on live local television station Channel 5. 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Series Channel 5-205
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