Sunday, July 16, 2000

AUTO RACING INSIDER


Ky. Speedway look forward to IRL

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        Kentucky Speedway survived its Metallica concert on July 8, and had race cars on the track two days later.

        “We had zero problems, zero incidents,” Speedway vice president Mark Cassis said of the concert, which drew more than 52,000 fans.

        The last reveler was long gone by the time Ray Evernham and the NASCAR Dodge cars hit town Monday for testing. Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood drove for Evernham, while Steve Grissom tested for owner Richard Petty. The sessions were closed to the public.

        The next Speedway race weekend is Aug. 26-27, with an ARCA stock car race and the Indy Racing League's Belterra Indy Resort 300. Cassis said about 25,000 tickets have been sold for the IRL race Aug. 27, which the Speedway has just begun to promote.

        “We're shooting for 55,000 or 60,000 for that IRL race,” Cassis said.

        The IRL would love that. It generally doesn't draw well outside of its Indianapolis and Texas venues.

        Greater Cincinnati, a new market, could be dif ferent. It's just 100 miles from the world-famous Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400, but Cincinnati has never had an Indy race all its own.“A lot of people in this part of the country have never seen an open-wheel car up close,” IRL driver Buzz Calkins said, after practicing at the Speedway recently. “If we're going to build our fan base, these are the places we need to go.”

        LOCAL SCENE: Blue Ash native Jeff Fultz finished third in a NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro race at Montgomery, Ala., last weekend ... The Loveland-based Dick Hoffman racing team, with driver Dave Darland, won a USAC sprint race at Toledo Speedway last weekend. The team dedicated its victory to Kenny Irwin, who was killed July 7 in a NASCAR Winston Cup practice. Irwin once drove a Hoffman sprint car.

        • Buddy Lowther, formerly of Delhi and Mount Carmel, was named Rookie of the Year in the Mini-Pro Truck Championship Series based in Denver. Lowther, whose truck is sponsored by Sporty's Pilot Shop of Batavia, finished third in the series' points race this year.

        MORE HISTORY: More additions to our list of top drivers in Greater Cincinnati racing history:

        • Sharon Pflum Finke lists her father Joe Pflum, who was track champion at Cincinnati Race Bowl in 1958 and also drove at Daytona; her mother, Millie Pflum, who drove in Powder Puff races at the Race Bowl in the 1950s; her sister, Karen Pflum, who was the only female racer at Queen City Speedway in the 1970s; and her brother Jeep Pflum, who has driven ARCA, ASA, and All-Pro, and is the current points leader at Indianapolis Speedrome in a Legends car.

        • Neal Sceva of Urbana, who drove primarily in central Ohio before his death in 1985, raced at Tri-County Speedway in the 1970s. His 615 feature wins are believed to be a record for short-track drivers.

        NHRA ALL-STARS: Cory McClenathan gave drag racing's nitro bragging rights back to the Top Fuel division last weekend, when he won the NHRA's all-star Winston Showdown at Bristol, Tenn.

        McClenathan defeated John Force, the defending Showdown winner and Funny Car ace, in early elimination rounds.

        Jeg Coughlin (Columbus, Ohio) took his first major win in Pro Stock. Other winners were Matt Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Bob Panella (Pro Stock Truck).

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

       



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