Sunday, September 10, 2000

Auto Racing Insider

Ky. Speedway sorting out 2001 lineup

        Kentucky Speedway tentatively will have three major racing weekends again next year, headlined by its NASCAR Busch Series race June16.

        The 2001 schedule, if speedway chairman Jerry Carroll has his way:

        • June16: NASCAR Busch race.

        • July14: NASCAR Craftsman Truck race.

        • Aug.12: Indy Racing League race.

        “We would like a different weekend for the truck race, since we had it in June this year,” Carroll said. “We're trying to work that out, so that we don't have the Truck and Busch races on the same weekend.”

        Regarding those Busch tickets, please hold all calls for now.

        “I wish we were selling them today,” Carroll said. “But you've got to have the actual schedule out first.”

        Carroll said he hopes to have the speedway's 2001 schedule finalized by November or December.

        RUSH HOUR: An e-mail from Michael Butler (Wilmington) complained of slow traffic at Kentucky Speedway following the IRL race Aug.27.

        “This is a real problem,” Butler wrote. “Earlier this year we left the Michigan Speedway with nearly 160,000 people and arrived in Wilmington, Ohio, faster than it took us from the Kentucky Speedway.”

        Michigan Speedway, according to seasoned travelers, has the worst post-race traffic among major speedways.

        Carroll acknowledged disappointment at the IRL post-race traffic.

        “We've got to do something about that,” he said. “We're working hard to make some of the roads wider. We've gotten some constructive criticism.”

        LOCAL SCENE: The Doran Lista Racing team, managed by Delhi native Kevin Doran, finished second in the Grand American Road Racing team owner standings for 2000. Also, Larry Schumacher (West Chester) finished seventh and BJ Zacharias (Ross) was 13th in the Grand-Am Sports Racer II driver points race.

        • Jeff Wichmann (Mason) finished second in a recent ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series race at Shady Bowl Speedway in DeGraff, Ohio. Wichmann charged to second place after going a lap down.

        • Lockland High grad Glenn Allen Jr., a former NASCAR Busch series driver, has had several top-10 finishes since returning to the ASA stock circuit. Allen finished eighth in last week's race at St.Paul, Minn.

        VASSER OUT: Jimmy Vasser, who won the 1996 CART season title, won't return to the Target-Ganassi racing team for 2001. Vasser is eighth in the 2000 points race, and owner Chip Ganassi felt it was time for a change.

        “It just seemed we weren't bringing out the best of each other anymore,” Ganassi said, in announcing Vasser's dismissal.

        Vasser and Target teammate Juan Montoya were the only CART drivers at the Indy 500 this year, with Montoya winning and Vasser finishing seventh. Montoya is expected to drive in Formula One in 2001, leaving Ganassi looking for two new drivers.

        RAY RETURNS: Rumors of IRL driver Greg Ray's departure from Team Menard proved false.

        Ray, the 1999 IRL series champion, has slipped to 11th place this year. But team owner John Menard said Ray will return for 2001.

        Ray replaced Tony Stewart as Menard's top driver following the 1998 season, and Stewart went on to Winston Cup stardom. Ray, during a break in IRL practices at Kentucky Speedway last month, was asked if he had thought of a similar move.

        “That's a very good question,” Ray said. “But my heart is in open-wheel racing.”



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