Roush-Fenway Racing developmental driver Peter Shepherd topped the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Channel 5 150" practice at Kentucky Speedway this morning by turning a quick 177.895-mph lap.

Shepherd, who is one of three drivers attempting to qualify for this week's ARCA RE/MAX and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at the track, is competing in his second ARCA RE/MAX Series weekend this season. He made his series debut with a 22nd-place showing at Michigan International Speedway on June 15.

"It's very difficult," Shepherd said of his double-duty attempt. "I did this last year in Nashville and it was the same scenario. I had the truck practice, then had to qualify for the ARCA event and didn't make it through the second corner. I was trying to relax during today's session. I want to make sure the car is underneath me first."

The 20-year-old driver from Brampton, Ontario Canada is behind the wheel of the same No. 99 ARCA RE/MAX Series Ford Erik Darnell drove to a 3.206-second victory over Evernham Motorsports product Erin Crocker in the series first Kentucky appearance of the season on May 12. Darnell, who competes full-time on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit and ranks 11th in the standings, also drove the car to a second-place finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Kansas Speedway April 27 and a win at Michigan International Speedway June 15.

"The car is right on, and it's been right on every time. Erik has run this thing three times, with two wins and a second. So, I guess no pressure," Shepherd said. "There's a lot to be excited about. The car was really good in qualifying and race trim and I just love driving the thing."

He looks forward to turning his first competitive laps at Kentucky Speedway tonight. "It's the perfect series for running in a big, heavy car. Guys like Frank Kimmel and Bobby Gerhart, the guys who built the series, we can't forget about them. There's definitely a huge respect factor. We almost feel bad because of we have the stuff that we do, but this is the place to be and to get better."

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Bryan Clauson was second in practice with a 176.632-mph lap, Hendrick Motorsports developmental driver Landon Cassill and his No. 87 Stanley/Vidmar/Proto Chevrolet were third on the practice chart with a 175.200-mph lap, Michael Waltrip / Eddie Sharp Racing driver Josh Wise was fourth fastest in the session after turning a 175.097-mph lap in his No. 22 ESR Development / NAPA Toyota and ARCA RE/MAX Series regular Jeremy Clements completed the Top Five with a 174.684-mph lap the No. 3 1 Stop Convenience Stores Chevrolet.

Clauson has posted top-five finishes in his two ARCA RE/MAX Series starts this season, Cassill is making his series debut today, Wise has charted one top-five and two top-10 finishes through five series starts this season and Clements owns three top-five and top-10 finishes through six series starts this season.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice is up next at the speedway.

Tickets for tonight's ARCA RE/MAX Series "Channel 5 150" and tomorrow night's "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" are still available and can be reserved by phone at 888-652-RACE, online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com, through Tickets.com and Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores and at the speedway main entrance.

The July 14 race ticket includes a prerace concert with American Idol champ Taylor Hicks. Speedway gates open at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m., Hicks takes the Turn 1 Concert Stage at 6:30 p.m., and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers take the green flag for the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" at 8:00 p.m.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~