NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southeast Series veteran Stanley Smith (No. 49 Valvoline Chevrolet) edged circuit mate Erik Darnell by .001 of a second to top the speed chart with a fast lap of 155.763 mph ((34.668 seconds) in the series 90-minute practice session this afternoon at Kentucky Speedway.

Drivers worked through sunny and partly cloudy conditions during the session that opened the first of two days of racing action at Kentucky Speedway. The series will qualify for tonight's "Insight Communications 150" at 5:00 p.m., and take the green flag for the race at 8:00 p.m.

Smith notched a Kentucky win during the series last visit on September 18, 2004 said his car is ready to run up front tonight.

"We're glad to be back here, we need to make it two (victories) in a row. We're going to be real good for qualifying and the race," he said. "Hopefully, we'll qualify in the top five. In the race, we have to go up and grab the lead at some time. Hopefully, we'll lead it like we did last year."

Darnell, who won the pole for the series' June 2004 race at the speedway and finished eighth, said the changing weather conditions didn't affect the performance of his No. 7 Simply Wow Chevrolet and the car is ready for qualifying.

"I don't know if it was even clouding up at all when we were out. I think it was sunny the last time we were out so I didn't really notice anything," he said.

"The car was really good on the old tires. We put some new ones on and went just a little bit faster. We have a couple little adjustments to make for qualifying, but we'll be cool.

"I guess it all depends on what the weather is doing. If it gets cloudy or overcast towards the end, we might be in good shape. Here, I don't think it matters where you qualify, you just gotta go out there and stand on the gas." Tickets for "The Insight Communications 150" are still available and can be purchased at the speedway main entrance at Gates 15 and 16 for $20.

Tickets also are available for tomorrow's NASCAR Busch Series "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" featuring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars Rusty Wallace, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Jeff Green. Wallace, Biffle and Edwards rank in the top 10 in the series standings.

Fans can enjoy a full day of activity at the track on June 18. The NASCAR Busch Series will hold two practice sessions beginning Saturday at 10:00 a.m., country artist Travis Tritt will perform a two-hour concert beginning at 3:00 p.m., and Busch Series qualifying is set for 5:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and race Grand Marshal Ben Roethlisberger will give drivers the command to start engines and the green flag will drop for "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" at 8:00 p.m. Tickets can be reserved by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), online at and, through outlets including Meijer stores and at Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the speedway Fan Center outside the track in Sparta, Ky.

Race day tickets can be purchased at the speedway at the main entrance.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~