Meijer 300 Field Represents Kentucky Extremes, Experience
NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Mike Bliss and Scott Lagasse, Jr., can create a unique piece of Kentucky Speedway history should they successfully qualify for the "Meijer 300 presented by Ritz."
If both drivers are among tomorrow night's 43-car grid, it mark the first time drivers owning the all-time Kentucky Speedway widest and closest race margins of victory would appear in the same race. Lagasse, Jr., took the closest all-time speedway finish by 0.014 of a second from the 17th starting position over Wade Day in a May 7, 2004 American Speed Association (ASA) race.
Bliss manufactured the speedway's widest margin of victory by taking a 2002 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory by 18.197 seconds over Dennis Setzer after qualifying second. Only eight of the 36 trucks in the race finished on the lead lap. Even more impressive, Bliss won the Saturday night race with a broken nose sustained in an exhibition softball game versus an ESPN television crew on the preceding Thursday night at Northern Kentucky Univ. He slammed headlong into an unpadded centerfield chain link fence while tracking a fly ball.
All together, nine drivers on the official "Meijer 300 Presented by Ritz" entry list have accounted for 11 Kentucky Speedway victories across four series: American Speed Association (ASA), ARCA Racing Series (ARS), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) competition since July 14, 2001. The group averaged a 4.91 starting position and a 3.02 seconds margin of victory.
Dipping even deeper into the Kentucky Speedway experience pool, 18 drivers visiting the track this weekend made a combined 42 ARCA Racing Series starts in the Bluegrass State. The group combined to collect five pole awards and three victories along with a total of 14 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes. The group's average starting position was 12th and average finish was 15th.
Steve Wallace, who is wheeling the No. 66 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace, Inc., machine, earned an ARCA Racing Series Kentucky victory on May 13, 2006. He will make his fifth Nationwide Series start at the speedway coming off a 14th-place 2009 finish that marked his second-best series performance at the track.
He explained why previous Kentucky Speedway is so valuable.
"I really got a lot of laps here before I started competing in the Nationwide Series. I feel like I understand it a little better. There aren't a lot of tracks like it. Kentucky is its own deal.
"It's kind of a weird race track to me on entry and exits and how I get in the corners. Turn 3 has a really flat entrance. You get to the center and you have a lot of room, then you really get in the gas early and exit the corner really, really late. Going into Turn 1 is rough. You can really arc the corner and drive in super deep. The exit of Turn 2 is flat.
"Like any other racetrack though, you've got to get your car's four tires to stick to it the best you can and race it. This track has been pretty good to me. Tomorrow night's race should be fun," he said.
With a bevy of Kentucky Speedway experience woven throughout tomorrow's "Meijer 300 presented by Ritz" field, expect the drivers to lower the series standing nine-race 1.111-seconds margin of victory.
Race tickets, Big Deals specials and camping for the June 11-12 "Meijer 300 presented by Ritz" weekend can be reserved through the "Tickets" page of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-7223 (RACE) or by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices in either Ft. Mitchell, Ky., at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100 near the Montgomery Inn restaurant or the track Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N in Sparta, Ky. Tickets additionally are available through Meijer stores and tickets.com outlets.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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