Sunday, March 26, 2000

AUTO RACING INSIDER


Carroll hopes to stage truck parade in June

BY TOM GROESCHEN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A colorful convoy of NASCAR Craftsman Trucks may be parading down I-75 in June if Jerry Carroll's Kentucky Speedway folks can swing it.

        The speedway is set to open the weekend of June 16-17 with a Craftsman Truck race. Before that, the speedway hopes to stage a “Hauler Parade” through Cincinnati, with the big rigs driving in tandem to the speedway in Sparta, Ky.

        Mark Cassis, speedway vice president, envisions it this way:

        “The teams will start to come in on Wednesday, June 14th. They'll meet somewhere north of Cincinnati — just where, we don't know yet — but probably at a Sears store, since they're the sponsor.

        “We want to get them there by 7a.m., shine the trucks up from about 9 to noon and have autograph sessions with some drivers. Then around noon, they'll all line up and come southbound on I-75.”

        Right through the downtown construction mess?

        “We're still making plans if we can go through the city or not,” Cassis said. “We might have to loop around, but either way, it'll be a long parade.”

        Eventually, the parade would head south onto I-71 below Florence and down to the speedway in Sparta. The speedway is about 35 miles southwest of downtown Cincinnati.

        “It'd be a way to welcome NASCAR to the Tristate,” Cassis said. “We hope to have a police escort, speedway vehicles, and really do it up big.”

        LOCAL NOTES: Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway opens April 29 for practice, with the first major night of racing May 6.

        The big event of the Lawrenceburg summer is the annual NASCAR Night, this year July 14. The night includes the CBLD Race of Champions featuring local celebrities, followed by late-model and mini-stock races, and then a short race featuring some Winston Cup drivers in late-model stocks.

        NASCAR visitors to Lawrenceburg in recent years have included Tony Stewart, Sterling Marlin and Jeremy Mayfield. This year, track president Greg Staab said he has gotten one Winston Cup driver to commit (he usually gets three or four) but said he can't reveal the driver's name yet.

        For Lawrenceburg info, call Staab at 513-467-9047 or the track at 812-539-4700.

        • Jeff Fultz of Milford plans to drive in the inaugural NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro race on opening night at Kentucky Speedway. Fultz, a top-five Slim Jim driver last year, is again in the top five in this season's points race. Fultz drives the Slim Jim entry owned by Joe Gibbs, who also owns the heavyweight Winston Cup team of Bobby Labonte-Tony Stewart.

        • Cincinnati driver Matt “Spanks” Overbeck also hopes to run in the Slim Jim opener at Kentucky Speedway. Overbeck, who will graduate from UC June 9, is the son of Cincinnati automotive media personality Steve Overbeck.

        • Veteran Winston Cup crew chief Mark Tudor, most recently with Travis Carter and Cale Yarborough, has joined the Walton (Ky.)-based Master Motorsports as an engineering consultant for Ford Tauruses to be run in the 2000 ARCA Bondo-Mar Hyde Series. There are two ARCA races at Kentucky Speedway this season (July 2, Aug.26).

        FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Today's Food City 500 at Bristol is the sixth Winston Cup race of the season. Only five times in the modern era (since 1972) has the eventual NASCAR Winston Cup series champion not won by the sixth race of the season: Benny Parsons (1973), Darrell Waltrip (1985), Terry Labonte (1984 and '96) and Dale Jarrett (1999).

        Tom Groeschen welcomes your e-mail at tgroeschen@enquirer.com.

       



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