Barnes is Best in Inaugural Frank Kimmel Enduro Nationals
Veteran driver Chuck Barnes, Sr., of Louisville, Ky., pocketed $10,000 at Kentucky Speedway tonight after leading 77 of 100 race laps in the inaugural 150-mile Frank Kimmel Enduro Nationals Presented by Harely-Davidson of Cincinnati and the Thoroughbred Harley-Davidson Shop of Florence, Ky.
"It's pretty great to run a track like this at a facility like this. It's has grip all around you and you can drive anywhere you want to. We're used to running on smaller, half-mile tracks, so this is unreal," Barnes, Sr., said.
One hundred seventeen drivers registered for the event, 89 arrived at the track and 69 emerged from tech inspection and a two-hour practice to form the largest starting grid in the eight-year history of Kentucky Speedway that was set by blind draw.
Joe Williamson of Shepherdsville, Ky., placed second in the No. 111 car, Beau Hendrich of Palmyra, Ind., was third in the No. 81 car, Tony Conway of Louisville, Ky., finished fourth in his No. 21 car and Brian McDonald of Louisville, Ky., completed the top-five in the No. 008.
Barnes, Sr., and his No. 51 machine worked their way from the 41st starting position to the race lead by Lap 18 and were consistently pressured in the first of two 50-lap segments by a competitive contingent of drivers that included John Collins of Sellersburg, Ind., in the No. 29, Brett Hudson of Owensboro, Ky., in the No. 00, Pete Mayden of Jeffersonville, Ind., in the No. 101, Hendrich and Conway.
The No. 51 was out in front when the field went into the pits for a 20-minute competition caution period that began on Lap 50.
"When we got the lead during the first segment, I thought 'yeah, this car is going to be good.' Then, all the sudden, the guys started gaining up behind me, getting together and drafting me. We put the four tires we scuffed in practice back on, and I think we took some cross out of it and made a sway bar adjustment because it felt like it was getting tight at the end of the first segment. It seemed like it helped...it made it go faster," he said.
Thirty-seven drivers were able to return for the second segment and Barnes, Sr., immediately established control. When Hudson's car retired from the race on Lap 70 and Collins' machine gave way on Lap 86, Barnes, Sr., was pressured again by the Conway and Mayden machines but neither had enough to knock the eventual winner out of contention.
"At the end, they started getting by me a bit and side to side, and I said 'well, that's it we're just going to slide to the back.' But we got a couple good breaks, traffic got in the way of a couple guys and we lucked out," he said.
Top Five Finishers were: 51 Barnes Sr. - $10,000, 111 Williamson - $3,500, 81 Beau Hendrich - $2,000, Conway - $1,500, 008 McDonald - $1,000.
The official race attendance was 6,216.
The 2007 Kentucky Speedway season continues June 15 and 16 when the NASCAR Busch Series visits for "ClearChannel Cincinnati Fanfest" and "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo." The third of five race weekends opens with a driver autograph session following NASCAR Busch Series practice on June 15. The seventh 300-mile NASCAR Busch Series battle in track history follows on June 16.
Tickets for both events are on sale now and can be reserved online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-RACE, at Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores or through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices located at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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