Rookie Hemphill Scores "Channel 5-205" Win In First Kentucky Speedway Start
A gamble on fuel resulted in a dominating performance as rookie Ryan Hemphill (No. 64 TrimSpa Dodge) set a new series track record by leading the final 116 laps of Saturday's "Channel 5-205" in front of 23,160 fans at Kentucky Speedway to claim his first career ARCA RE/MAX Series win.
Hemphill, who started outside Row One, took over the lead when Pork Pole Award winner Frank Kimmel (No. 46 Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford) spun into the wall between turns two and three on Lap 22. Hemphill never relinquished the lead, and used a Kentucky Speedway ARCA race record 58 caution laps to run all 205 miles on just one pit stop.
"The cautions helped," Hemphill said. "If not for the cautions, we would've had to pit again. The crew kept assuring me that we would make it (on fuel), so I had faith in them and brought it home in the end. I kept asking if I needed to pit and the crew chief said stay out. It is kind of lucky that we got all of those cautions and the race went in our favor."
Billy Venturini (No. 25 Mahle Pistons-ReadyHosting.com Chevrolet) placed second, finishing 0.706 seconds behind Hemphill. Mark Gibson (No. 59 Williams Bros. Lumber) finished third while Ken Weaver (No. 75 1-800-4-A-Phone Chevrolet) finished fourth. Christi Passmore (No. 91 GAP Roofing-Royal Trading Ford) tied her career best ARCA finish as she came in fifth.
"I hate it that we finished second again," said Venturini, who entered tonight's race 105 points behind Kimmel. "We've been around the top two and three for three out of four races. I don't know if we are the points leader now, but if we aren't, we are darn close."
Kimmel, a five-time series champion and three-time Kentucky Speedway winner, saw his streak of five top-two Kentucky finishes end as he finished 20th, 28 laps back. After leading from the pole, Kimmel attributed his spin on the backstretch to oil that was left on the track by a blown engine on the No. 9 Turbine Engine Consultants Dodge of Matt Hagans.
Kimmel's machine incurred significant rear end damage, which forced him into the pits several times. He finished outside the top-10 for only the second time through nine Kentucky Speedway starts.
"There was oil on the track from the No. 9's engine and I just didn't see it," Kimmel said. "I got a little loose through there the lap before. The No. 64 was right behind me and my car was cruising along pretty good before I made a Gremlin out of it."
The 2004 season continues at Kentucky Speedway June 18-19 with the NASCAR Busch Series "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" on Saturday and the Friday NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southeast Series "Kentucky 150."
|Tickets for both events are on sale now and can be purchased in four easy ways:|
|• By phone at 1-888-652-RACE|
|• On the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyspeedway.com|
|• In person at either the speedway's Ft. Mitchell ticket office or at the Kentucky Speedway Fan Center off Ky. Hwy. 35 in Sparta, Ky.|
~ Kentucky Speedway ~