KENTUCKY (11/6/12) - Its Election Day… you have two choices basically. There is still a handful in the running, but for all basic purposes there are only two legit men in the running. It’s either Jimmie Johnson or Brad Keslowski. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will be one of the two now with just two races to go.
Phoenix this weekend and then Homestead (Miami) to wrap up the NASCAR season and the Hendrick and Penske Teams have the Chevy vs. Dodge championship battle down to themselves as everyone else is basically one race behind in points. California vs. Wisconsin. Pretty boy vs. Bad boy Brad. Hype aside, it actually is a good championship battle to follow up last year’s classic tie between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.
Also on the NASCAR front, the Kentucky based Dollar General Stores announced an increase to their NASCAR sponsorship program by upping the number of races they will sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing. New driver of the #20 Matt Kenseth next year will run some 18 races with DG on the car, while traditional #20 sponsor Home Depot scales back their primary sponsorship number of events. DG will also sponsor Brian Vickers in a Nationwide car. DG officials hope to become a full time Cup car sponsor in the coming years. No immediate word on their involvement in short track racing, such as their involvement on Kyle Busch’s asphalt short track program, but we assume that too will continue in 2013.
You already see a lot of racing related signage when you go in to area Dollar General stores, but their increased marketing with racing will only help expose more and more area citizens to stock car racing. It’s good to see Kentucky grown products seeing the benefits of relating their marketing efforts to the sport of stock car racing.
On the local racing scene over the weekend, Western Kentucky Speedway was able to get their Friends of Coal Open Wheel Modified event in despite some chilly and damp weather Saturday. Windy Hollow Speedway pushed back their Enduro day of racing a day to Sunday but got it in the books. The event also served as the last event that promoter Scott Slaton would host at the D-shaped oval as he has opted to not renew a lease to the Owensboro-area dirt track. Slaton put a lot of hard work and hours in to bringing the track back up in reputation from a few years of neglect. It’s expected both the dirt track and the drag strip will find a rebirth again in 2013 with new leaseholders at both.
Back to WKS, the Nebo track is tossing around the idea of hosting an event this Saturday if enough racer support is voiced. Lot of drivers have begun taking apart cars and preparing for the ’13 season, leaving track promoter Randle Sweeney wondering if there is enough support to open the gates one more time. Racers are encouraged to visit the Western Kentucky Speedway Facebook page and leave a reply if they are interested in racing Saturday. The track website www.wkracing.com should have race info later in the week for fans as far as times and if they plan on racing.
We was thrilled to come in from races in Springfield, Missouri in the wee hours of Sunday morning to the news that Benton, Kentucky racer Terry English had returned behind the wheel of the Burr Motorsports Tennessee based #33 and swept the night at Clarksville (TN) Speedway. Fast time, fast dash and the $2,000 to win Super Late Model feature were all his as he had stepped out of the cockpit for a few weeks to have back surgery. For anyone back surgery can be a mental challenge, but for a racer it’s always been a rather difficult process. Ball players take jolts to the spine, but for racers it’s a continuous vibration, pressure and sometimes painful predicament in driving a race car.
It brings back memories of Terry’s win in the inaugural event at Kentucky Late Motor Speedway in 1997. Terry had been out of the driver’s seat and victory lane for some time recovering from a serious wreck at Barren County Speedway. It was at his advice that I wound up at Kentucky Lake as General Manager/Promoter and got the speedway to that much anticipated opening event. Looking back it seems like a Hollywood script as Terry returned to the seat of a race car and won the first ever event at a track located just a stone’s throw from his home in front of his family and friends.
I’m sure his win at Clarksville Saturday night wasn’t as emotional as that first checkers back after many surgeries back in ’97, but I’m sure it was just as satisfying for him. With a couple of events still in the area, most likely won’t be the final checker for the 33 before the snow flies, but if it was, good way to end a season for both the 33/96 team.
The only area track definitely racing this weekend will be Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop, TN as they were rained out last Saturday night and will wrap up their season this Saturday afternoon with a full racing program including the Late Models. The short season on the asphalt has been a successful one for the group who has brought the track thru its 50th season of racing, after rebuilding grandstands, track walls, bathrooms and the tracks reputation. Encouraging efforts as the season ends and work begins toward a new racing year.
Personally, we’ve still got about four weeks of racing on our calendar… and looking forward to some great racing on both dirt and asphalt to close out the season and to share with you the readers before we call it a season.
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