Current 18th-place ARCA RE/MAX Series championship driver Michael Phelps turned the quickest lap among a 20-driver test group preparing for the July 18 "Kentucky 150" at Kentucky Speedway this afternoon.

Phelps clicked off the top trip around the 1.5-mile tri-oval at 176.010-mph (30.680 seconds) in his No. 45 Bowen Family Homes Dodge. He was followed on the chart by this season's Iowa Speedway race winner Matt Hawkins in the No. 39 Jani-King Dodge with a 175.382-mph (30.790 seconds) lap and current eighth-place series championship driver Tayler Malsam with a 175.041-mph (30.850 seconds) lap in his No. 4 Dodge Driver Development Program machine.

The quickest drivers from today's session will join a potentially diverse "Kentucky 150" field that will feature current fourth-place championship contender Frank Kimmel and as many as four female competitors including series regular Gabi DiCarlo. Newcomers seeking to make their first Kentucky Speedway ARCA RE/MAX Series start will be Alli Owens, who turned the fourth-fastest lap in today's session at 174.081-mph (31.020 seconds) in the No. 12 Chevrolet, as well as sisters Amber and Angela Cope, nieces of 1990 Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope.

Kimmel will return to a track where he owns four wins, nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes through 16 career starts. The nine-time and defending series champion is in his first year as his own team owner and is in good position to improve on his 13th-place finish in the series May 10 150-mile Kentucky race.

He is coming off his season-high second-place finish at Cayuga Motor Speedway in Nelles Corners, Ontario June 29 and turned his best lap of the day at 173.299 mph (31.160 seconds).

"It went really well. It was the first time we were able to test this new car we ran here in the spring race. It ran very consistent all day. We're just trying to figure out this new coil spring and how you coil bind. We're very, very new at this, so we're trying to get some groundwork laid so we know what to change when we need to," he said.

The Clarksville, Ind., native stated today's test was helpful, however his fledgling team needs more work before its ready to deliver his 10th career series title.

"We need to get to the race track and test to figure out these new cars. This is, by far, one of the best race cars I've ever driven and we're behind it, we're not caught up with the car," he added.

Chrissy Wallace, the daughter of veteran NASCAR competitor Mike Wallace, also turned test laps today. The 20-year-old is scheduled to make her third career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start in Kentucky Speedway's July 19 "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" and plans to compete in two ARCA RE/MAX Series events later this season.

"Today will help us out in both aspects, but mostly for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here. The good news is I'm going to run ARCA, so I'm getting used to the car period. They drive a little different than the trucks handling wise and in horsepower," she said.

The St. Louis, Mo., based driver placed 18th and 20th in her two previous NCTS starts in Martinsville, Va., and Milwaukee, Wis., this season and is looking forward to stepping up to the challenges provided by the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval.

"I'm having a lot of fun. I'll get to race with my teammates Todd Bodine and Justin Marks and we always run well. If I take the knowledge from the ARCA car over to the truck and run the same lines, we should perform really well.

"We're definitely learning a lot. Germain Racing and Toyota have given us a really good truck in every race. I've had my dad spotting for me and I'm getting help as I go along. I'm definitely more comfortable now than when I first started," she added.

The 17th ARCA RE/MAX Series event in Kentucky Speedway history will open the fourth of five 2008 race weekends at the venue July 18 at 4:30 p.m., when drivers take to the track for ARCA RE/MAX Series qualifying. NCTS final practice will follow at 6:30 p.m., and the "Kentucky 150" field will take the green flag at 8:00 p.m.

Gates open at 2:00 p.m., July 19. NCTS "Built Ford Tough Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" qualifying will begin at 3:30 p.m., the Blood Sweat & Tears 40th Anniversary Tour makes its stop on the Turn 1 Concourse at 5:30 p.m., and the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" begins at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Kentucky 150" and the NCTS "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" can be reserved by calling 888-652-RACE (7223) and online through the tickets pages of this Web site. Tickets also are available through any Meijer store and the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk, Suite 100 in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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