Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon arrived at Kentucky Speedway for his first "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" and quickly set to work setting the pace for tonight's 8:30 p.m., race by leading two Thursday evening practice sessions.

Dillon, who started 34th and placed 15th in ARCA Racing Series competition at the track last season, immediately became reacquainted with 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. He led the opening 90- minute practice with a 172.436-mph (31.316 seconds) lap and followed up with a session-leading 174.718-mph (30.907 seconds) in the 60-minute Happy Hour session.

"We've been fast in a lot of practice sessions this year. I feel like it's time to go ahead and prove that we can be fast in the race. I think we did last week when we took the lead and we just had a mistake. We had mistakes earlier in the year when we were running in the top five. When we won the race at Iowa, we didn't make any mistakes. We have to get back to that and I think we're going to this weekend," Dillon said.

In addition to his Iowa Speedway victory, the Lewisville, N.C., driver has picked up a total of five top- five and 11 top-10 finishes along with the Iowa, Michigan and Texas pole awards. He placed ninth last week at Chicagoland Speedway after starting second.

He plans to use his familiarity with the Kentucky race surface to his advantage in today's 4:00 p.m. qualifying session and tonight's 225-mile race.

"This is an awesome track, I've been here once before for an ARCA race, so I feel a little bit more at home than I do at most tracks. I have the similar feel for the truck that I had at Iowa so I'm really excited about the race.

"There is a lot of character at this track. It reminds me of a big Iowa with the way the bumps are situated. The person that gets their truck to cut under the bumps the best will be the best. The people that were good at Iowa are going to be good here.

"It will be tough to get the pole. Kyle Busch is really good again this weekend. That's one thing we'll have to fight, he's one of the toughest out there to beat. We're working hard to see what we can do," he concluded.

Busch, who is aiming to become the first three-series race winner in Kentucky Speedway history in his second NCWTS start at the track, was second in the first practice session with a 172.106-mph (31.376 seconds) lap and Stacy Compton, a 2003 NASCAR Nationwide Series Kentucky pole award winner, was third with a 171.467-mph (31.493 seconds ) lap.

James Buescher, a 2009 Kentucky ARCA Racing Series pole and race winner, was second in Happy Hour with a 174.514-mph (30.943 seconds) and Mike Skinner, last year's "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" runner-up, 2008 NCWTS pole winner and 2007 race winner, was third quickest in the session with a 174.374-mph (30.968 seconds) lap.

Speedway gates open today at noon for a full slate of action. Firestone Indy Lights "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 100" qualifying begins at noon, IZOD IndyCar Series "Kentucky Indy 300" qualifying starts at 1:30 p.m., an IICS autograph session follows NCWTS qualifying at 4:30 p.m. in the Hospitality Village, before FIL and IICS return to the track for afternoon practice sessions. The green flag will wave for the "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" race after 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for today's events can be printed at home from the tickets page of this Web site or reserved at the speedway entrances beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Story by Mike Schmaltz



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