Cook, Kimmel Look to Sustain Momentum at Kentucky Speedway
Shrink wrap is a premium item in the race shops of seven-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Terry Cook this week as both attempt to preserve the winning Ford race machines they drove at Kansas Speedway last week for their July 7-8 runs at Kentucky Speedway.
Cook will take the green flag for Saturday's "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" ranked sixth in the championship standings following his first series win in four seasons July 1 in Kansas. Former Kentucky Speedway NASCAR Busch Series race winner Todd Bodine leads the series standings by 138 points over Darrell Waltrip Racing driver David Reutimann.
The No. 10 Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford and Cook own a total of two top-five and six top-10 finishes through 12 races this season. He anticipates a solid run on a track where he has generated three top-10 finishes in six career starts, but missed out on a win last season when his truck blew a right front tire while leading the race with seven laps remaining.
"We've run well every time we've been here, we just can't seem to get the finish we're looking for. Last year was an indication of that," Cook said. "I enjoy racing here and I think all the drivers enjoy coming here because there is no one line. The groove moves up the track at the end of the run and it's down at the bottom at the beginning of the run. You can run three wide around this place. It promotes great side-by-side racing.
"We always run well in the summer stretch and I don't know why. Racing week after week after week, we get in a rhythm as a race team and hit our summer stride. We're going to bring the same truck we ran in Kansas last week. Being the 'Built Ford Tough 225' and driving the Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford in a race that has our second-biggest purse, there's a lot of motivation when we come to Kentucky."
Four-time Kentucky Speedway race winner Kimmel also will seek redemption from a track that dealt him his track-worst 25th-place finish in the series May 13 visit to the facility earlier this season. He has tallied a total of eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes through 12 career Kentucky Speedway starts.
"In the last race we were second quickest to Rusty's son Steven (Wallace) in qualifying and had a really good battle going (in the race), but I got into the wall in Turn 3. It was driver error. You don't like to say that, but that's what happened," Kimmel said.
He enters Friday's "WLWT-TV Channel 5 150" second in the series standings and 90 points behind leader Bobby Gerhart after taking two wins, four top-five and five top-10 finishes in nine events this season. Should Kimmel find a winning chemistry, he will tie Cincinnati native and former NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division driver Jeff Fultz for the all-time lead in Kentucky Speedway wins.
Kimmel expects any success he realizes in his No. 46 Pork The Other White Meat Ford to be hard-fought because he will face another strong group of NASCAR development drivers that took three of the top-five spots in the May race. "All these NASCAR teams are bringing in young kids with great racecars," he said. "Every week it seems like there's somebody different and it's made it tougher on us. Sometimes you have to put on your blinders a little bit because you go places and you're just not in their league. That's a hard pill to swallow, but there have been times in the last year-and-a-half that we've really stepped up our intermediate program. Those guys are really fast, but our cars have run really, really well here. I think we'll be as strong as we've ever been at Kentucky."
The third of four 2006 race weekends at Kentucky Speedway also features USAC Ford Focus Midwest Midget Car Series racing, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying and a Charlie Daniels Band prerace concert on Saturday. Friday's docket also includes NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice sessions and ARCA RE/MAX Series qualifying.
Speedway gates will open at 3:00 p.m. Friday and 1:00 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for both days of race action and family fun are available at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through all Meijer stores and Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Suite 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., or Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of I-71 Exit 57 and Ky. Rte. 35 North. Tickets also will be available on race days at Kentucky Speedway ticket booths.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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