Kerry Earnhardt and his No. 13 National Pork Board Chevrolet raised the speed bar for 38 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors at Kentucky Speedway this evening by turning a top lap of 177.421 mph (30.436 seconds) in the final practice session for tomorrow's "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."

Earnhardt's lap was the fastest of three sessions today and bettered the previous fastest lap by 2.635 mph (0.459 seconds). Earnhardt will make his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at the track tomorrow night.

"This is the truck we had at Kansas. It has been fast the whole time," Earnhardt said. "We just took our time with everything and made some laps. We finished off with a qualifying run and it put us at the top of the board. I love Kentucky. I test here all the time and I've got a lot of laps here, just not a lot of race laps. I hope to get that changed tomorrow with a good finish."

Defending series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Motors Toyota) was second quickest in the session with a 176.142-mph (30.657 seconds), two-time series winner Johnny Benson (No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota) was third fastest with a 176.114-mph (30.662 seconds) lap, David Reutimann (No. 17 Toyota Tundra Toyota) was fourth on the speed chart with a 176.079-mph (30.668 seconds) lap and Marcos Ambrose (No. 20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford) closed out the top five with a 174.870-mph (30.880 seconds) lap. Ambrose scored his first top-five series finish with a third-place showing last week at Kansas Speedway in just his ninth series start.

Series leader Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) placed 25th in the series final practice session. He turned his best lap of the session at 172.469 mph (31.310 seconds). He placed 32nd in the opening practice session and 23rd in the second session.

"We're not running as good as we need to be by any means," Bodine said. "We got better in the second practice, but are still off. Teddy (Musgrave) is running really well so we are going to take some things off his truck and some notes from him to try to apply it to what we are doing. The truck is way too tight in the middle of the corner and you can't run fast with it like that. We have our work cut out for us."

He owns a 138-point lead over Reutimann in the series standings.

The series will qualify for the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. The full day of activity at the speedway begins when gates open at 1:00 p.m. with USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series qualifying heats and a feature races. The Charlie Daniels Band will be in concert at 6:00 p.m., on the Turn 1 Concourse and 36 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers will take to the 1.5-mile tri-oval at 8:15 p.m., for the weekend's feature event.

Tickets for the race are still available and will be on sale beginning at noon tomorrow at speedway ticket booths.

The ARCA RE/MAX Series "WLWT-TV Channel 5 150" is up next.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~