ARCA RE/MAX Series Teams Prep for the "Click It or Ticket. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150"
Eight of the top 10 teams in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings rolled to Kentucky Speedway today to test their wares in preparation for the July 18 "Click It or Ticket. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150."
Current championship leader Parker Kligerman and second-place driver Justin Lofton were on hand to mentor teammates, while nine-time series champion and four-time Kentucky Speedway race-winner Frank Kimmel was hard at work turning laps in his No. 44 Ford.
Kligerman, who owns a 55-point lead over Lofton after collecting a series-leading three wins and a total of five top-five and eight top-10 finishes through nine events, was advising stock car newcomer Dakoda Armstrong, but remained intensely interested in the information gained from his team's test laps.
"Dakoda has done a little bit of stock car stuff and just wanted a little help getting used to this place; it's the fastest place he's been," Kligerman said.
The 18-year-old Penske Racing developmental prospect saw his original part-time campaign convert to a full-season scenario when he came out of the gate with two top-five and a total four top-10 finishes through the first four races of the season.
While unexpected, his full-time cushion hasn't changed his go-for-broke race mentality that has helped him claim victory in three of the past four series events.
"We're coming to every race with the intention to win because we didn't think we'd be here for the full season. We're focusing on the points, but we're also focusing on winning. We really feel we should have won one more in addition to our three," he said.
The Connecticut native's only finish outside a race top-10 this season was a 17th-place showing in the May 9 "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150." He plans to make amends for that performance in 12 days.
"I think it will be hotter than the last race, so the tires might be a little slower and we might move around a little more. I think we have a good package from last race, which is one of the races I feel we at least should've finished second. I kind of threw it away coming off Turn 4 on the inside with a couple of laps to go trying to catch the leaders. We want to come back and get vengeance on this place," he said.
Lofton, who has picked up a win and a total of seven top-five finishes this season, served as lead consultant for his Eddie Sharp Racing teammates Craig Goess, currently fifth in the championship standings, and Tim George, Jr., ranked 10th in standings.
"I made a couple of laps, but it's actually fun having people wanting you to come out and help them. It's not as much fun as being in the racecar and doing your own thing," Lofton said.
He'll also be searching for Kentucky Speedway redemption in the "Click It or Ticket. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150" after placing second in a May event he feels he could've won.
"I'm hoping I'll make up for the first race here when we finished second with such a strong racecar. We hit something on the track and put a hole in the nose. It's beneficial for me to be here to spend some time on the track and some time off it to see the different changes everyone is making and which way the track is going," he added.
Kimmel will make a run at his fifth Kentucky Speedway victory in the upcoming 150-mile affair.
The Clarksville, Ind., driver and team owner earned his series track leading 11th top-five and 13th top-10 finish with a fifth-place May showing.
"The track was awesome last time we were here. It had a lot of grip, it was a night race and we were running really fast. We were really happy with the car. We probably had a top-three car, but ended up fifth the way things fell out. I'm looking forward to coming back. We're testing today and hopefully we can make the car even better," he said.
Kimmel enters the series' July 11 race at Iowa Speedway third in the series standings after collecting two top-five and four top-10 finishes. The veteran sits 230 points back of the leader, but plans to make a strong run at the young gun in the remaining 12 races on the schedule.
"Parker's been tough and he's going to be hard to beat all year long. He's doing a great job, but he's not really had any problems. We'll just keep plugging along, doing our thing. If we can be more competitive, we'll just push him as hard as we can," he added.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne was a surprise guest in the Kentucky garages where he worked on transitioning ARCA RE/MAX Series hopeful Brad Sweet to stock car racing. Kahne set up Sweet's car and turned the second-fastest lap of the morning session at 172.712-mph (31.266 seconds). Joey Coulter topped the first session with a 172.767-mph (31.256 second) trip around the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval.
Visit arcaracing.com for a full list of drivers and their times from the morning and afternoon sessions.
Kentucky Speedway's third of four 2009 race weekends opens July 17 with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series practice sessions from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Action continues July 18 with a doubleheader race day featuring the NCWTS "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" followed by the "Click It or Ticket. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 150." The day also includes a concert with classic country music artist Lee Greenwood.
Weekend tickets, new infield camping and more Big Deals can be reserved by visiting the tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223) or through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 North. Fans also can reserve tickets at Meijer stores and Tickets.com outlets.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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