Crocker Corrals ARCA RE/MAX Series "Channel 5 150" Pole Award
Erin Crocker and her No. 98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge captured her third Kentucky Speedway pole award and fifth of her career with an ARCA RE/MAX Series track-record lap of 178.731 mph during qualifying for tonight's "Channel 5-150."
Crocker, who finished second in the May 12 "Buckle-Up Kentucky 150" event here this season, now holds the record for most ARCA Series poles won by a female driver. The previous record was held by four-time pole winner Patty Moise.
Tonight's qualifying performance eclipsed the former series track benchmark set by Rusty Wallace, Inc., product Steve Wallace with a 177.509-mph (30.421 seconds) lap on May 13, 2006.
"To win five poles or have any record is an honor, but to beat someone like Patty Moise is a real honor because she was quite the racecar driver," Crocker said. "I'm just excited to have a really good car. I've had a lot of people come and go at Evernham Motorsports, but everyone who has worked on this car really believes in me, and has put a lot of time and effort into making this a great car. I just want that to pay off."
Crocker can become the first female race winner in track history tonight. She owns two second-place and a 17th-place finish through three career series starts at the track. "I don't know what I'm doing wrong," she said. "It seems in the past that the car has gotten tighter as the night goes on. I think we need to keep it really free tonight and hopefully pit stops and track positions fall our way."
Michael McDowell, who started the May race from the pole position after turning a 175.884-mph (30.702 seconds) lap before finishing 39th, will share the front row after knocking out his best lap at 176.788 mph in the No. 2 Z-Line Design/Make A Wish /Beck Toyota. Bobby Santos, III, who came home third in the series' May tilt, qualified third with a 175.999-mph circuit and Bryan Silas completed the second row after reeling off a 175.444-mph lap in his No. 11 Nortrax/Holland Pump Chevrolet fielded by former ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Andy Hillenburg.
Drivers with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series connections have now won the pole award for the past five ARCA RE/MAX Series events at Kentucky Speedway dating back to May 15, 2005, when Chad Blount started a 150-mile race from the top spot on the grid. Current series standings leader and four-time Kentucky Speedway race winner Frank Kimmel holds the series track record for most pole awards with five. He will start tonight's race 10th.
Qualifying was delayed 47 minutes to repair damage to the track's Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier that was damaged when the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Ford driven by Pete Shepherd made contact with the barrier at the exit of Turn 2 during his first qualifying lap. Shepherd, who led the series practice session this morning, also is scheduled to start Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" race.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice is up next.
Tickets for tomorrow night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" are still available and can be reserved by phone at 888-652-RACE, online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, through Tickets.com and Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores and at the speedway main entrance.
The July 14 race ticket includes a prerace concert with American Idol champ Taylor Hicks. Speedway gates open at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m., Hicks takes the Turn 1 Concert Stage at 6:30 p.m., and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers take the green flag for the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" at 8:00 p.m. The first 20,000 fans through the gates will receive a race-edition deck of premium playing cards compliments of U.S. Playing Card..
Story by Mike Schmaltz and John Popelar
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