Speed, Attendance Records Rewritten During Successful 2002 Kentucky Speedway Season
Kentucky Speedway™ solidified its position as one of motorsports premier venues in 2002 as drivers from the NASCAR Busch Series, Indy Racing League, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series staged history-making performances for avid race fans that continued to fill and overflow the speedway's 66,089 grandstand capacity.
The top headlines from Kentucky Speedway's successful 2002 season include:
Fisher Makes Open-Wheel, Indy Racing League and Kentucky Speedway History with "Belterra Casino Indy 300" Qualifying Run
After becoming the fastest woman ever to race at Indianapolis in May, 21-year-old Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher added a similar title at Kentucky Speedway with a historic run to the pole for "The Belterra Casino Indy 300." After waiving off her first qualifying attempt, Fisher engineered a 221.390 mph lap to become the first woman in open-wheel racing, IRL and Kentucky Speedway history to earn a pole award. The qualifying effort also shattered Kentucky Speedway's previous pole record of 219.191 mph set by Scott Goodyear in 2000.
NASCAR Busch Series "Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo" Crowd Sets Attendance Record For Second Consecutive Year
Kentucky Speedway fans toppled their own Greater Cincinnati single sporting event attendance record of 70,338 when 71,229 visited Kentucky Speedway for its second NASCAR Busch Series event on Saturday, June 15, 2002. Heavy rains tainted the festive atmosphere near the mid-point of the race, but those who returned the next afternoon witnessed one of the closest finishes of the 2002 series season as Todd Bodine and his No. 92 Excedrin Chevrolet, bumped, banged and battled Greg Biffle and the No. 60 Grainger Ford down the Kentucky front stretch to the finish line. Bodine won by 0.036 seconds as Biffle slid sideways across the line and into the infield. The margin of victory is second all-time in speedway history and one of the closest races in series history. The NASCAR Goody's Dash Series and driver Robert Huffman delivered the speedway's closest winning margin of 0.024 seconds on June 16, 2001.
Kentucky Speedway All-Time Attendance Swells Past 840,000 Fans
Energized by its second consecutive Greater Cincinnati single sporting event record crowd of 71,229 for the NASCAR Busch Series "Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo," Kentucky Speedway's all-time attendance catapulted past the 843,000-fan plateau in 2002. Attendance for the speedway's feature events grew a combined 12 percent.
New Tri-Oval Surface Generates Top IRL, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series Speeds
The NASCAR Busch Series, Indy Racing League and NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series all set new speed records on Kentucky Speedway's newly-paved 1.5-mile tri-oval in 2002. Indy Racing League drivers found the most speed among the major series that appeared at Kentucky Speedway. Sarah Fisher's historic pole speed of 221.390 mph led a pack of 21 drivers who bettered Scott Sharp's 2001 pole speed of 214.598 mph and a group of 11 drivers who beat the previous speedway pole record of 219.191 mph set by Scott Goodyear in 2000. The NASCAR Busch Series experienced a similar improvement as Scott Riggs set the new speedway record at 174.891 mph to knock Jay Sauter's inaugural pole speed of 171.860 mph out of the speedway record books. A total of 12 drivers qualified better than Sauter's 2001 mark. Not to be outdone, the NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series set a new pole record for the fourth consecutive time during qualifying for " The 84WHAS 150." Scott Carlson posted the new series record of 157.279 mph on Aug. 9, 2002. The Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series also lived up to its advanced billing for its "Kentucky 100" race when A.J. Foyt, IV, took the inaugural pole with a fastest lap of 179.571 mph.
Kentucky Speedway's "Kroger 225" Becomes The Second-Fastest Race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series History
The third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Kroger 225" at Kentucky Speedway saw driver Mike Bliss win for the second week in a row in the second fastest race in series history. The 143.515 mph average pace also set a series record for the track. The record didn't stop there. Bliss' 18.197-second margin of victory was the widest margin in both NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Kentucky Speedway history. "The Kroger 225" also set Kentucky Speedway records for the fewest number of caution laps at 12, and tied the speedway record for the fewest number of caution periods in a race with three. Bliss led 93 laps in the race, but after a flurry of late pit stops only regained the lead with 10 laps remaining and held on to become Kentucky's third different "Kroger 225" champion.
Giaffone Becomes First International Winner at Kentucky Speedway
Felipe Giaffone took his first career IRL win at Kentucky Speedway and also became its first international race winner. The 27-year-old, 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year, joins fellow Sao Paulo, Brazil drivers Helio Castroneves, Airton Dare and Gil de Ferran on the circuit. Giaffone also set the series record for closest margin of victory at Kentucky Speedway by nipping the second-place Sam Hornish, Jr., by 0.0932 seconds. It was the closest margin of victory in series history at Kentucky Speedway.
Local Sponsor Sparks First Local Television Broadcast In 50-Year ARCA RE/MAX Series History
Kentucky Speedway helped celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ARCA stock car racing and make series history on May 11,2002, when race sponsor WLWT-TV 5 of Cincinnati became the first local television station to broadcast an ARCA race event live. "The Channel 5 155" drew the second-largest series crowd in speedway history, as 27,575 fans cheered Frank Kimmel's third consecutive Kentucky Speedway win. Kimmel became the first three-time champion in speedway history by beating out series rookie Chad Blount by 0.296 seconds. Kimmel also set the mark for the closest ARCA RE/MAX Series margin of victory at Kentucky Speedway with the performance. Blount would return in July to avenge his loss by beating Kimmel in "The Blue Grass Quality Meats 200."
Kentucky Speedway Receives Accolades From Top Winston Cup Drivers
Kentucky Speedway speaks for itself among NASCAR Winston Cup drivers. The facility's popularity continued to grow in 2002 as a steady flow of series drivers made its way around the 1.5-mile tri-oval. One of the speedway's biggest days came when former NASCAR Winston Cup Champions Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte joined Michael Waltrip and Stacy Compton during a test that coincided with NASCAR Busch Series Media Day. Sterling Marlin, who has spent several weeks atop the series points standings, Jimmy Spencer, Kentucky native Jeremy Mayfield and Casey Atwood also have spent time fine tuning their race machines in the Kentucky Speedway garages. Perhaps the best compliment the facility received was when Jarrett took his first win of 2002 at Pocono and credited it in part to his test at Kentucky Speedway earlier in the week.
Quick Acting Kentucky Speedway Emergency Crews, Univ. of Kentucky Hospital Earns IRL Praise
Kentucky Speedway emergency crews entered the national news spotlight on Sunday, Aug. 11, when Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series driver and internationally known actor Jason Priestley and his No. 7 Home Med Pharmacy Dallara Infiniti race machine made high-speed contact with the Kentucky Speedway retaining wall near Turn 2. Preistley suffered serious internal and external injuries as a result of the contact and became the first driver in speedway history to be air lifted from the speedway's infield care center for trauma treatment. Speedway safety crews interacted with their counterparts from the IRL to extract Priestley from his cockpit both safely and efficiently. As the driver's condition improved, he was transferred from the Univ. of Kentucky Hospital to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Speedway Expands Special Event Offering in 2002
In addition to country stars Chely Wright in May and Lee Greenwood in July, Kentucky Speedway hosted rock band Dishwalla for a pre-race concert in June. The speedway also capitalized on its versatility by hosting The Outdoor Experience RV & Boat Show the week prior to the NASCAR Busch Series "Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo" and the United States Cowboy Tour "Racing Rodeo" in conjunction with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Kroger 225."
Kentucky Speedway will announce its 2003 schedule in the upcoming weeks and season tickets will go on sale this fall. Single-event tickets will be on sale in January. Visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com for the latest schedule and ticket information.