Friday, May 11, 2001

Stewart stars at Speedway tonight

Winston Cup driver to run Midgets

By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tony Stewart is the featured attraction, but Kentucky Speedway's opening weekend also is a rare showcase for local drivers.

        Stewart, the NASCAR Winston Cup star, will drive in a USAC Worldcom Midget Car Series race about 9 p.m. today. There also will be an ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series race tonight and then an ARCA RE/MAX stock race Saturday afternoon.

        Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who will drive in Saturday's ARCA race, has driven NASCAR Busch races in his career but said there is excitement about his first Kentucky Speedway appearance.

  • 4 p.m.: Gates open
  • 4-5 p.m.: ARCA RE/MAX series practice
  • 5:30 p.m.: USAC Midgets/ARCA trucks practice, qualifying.
  • 8 p.m.: USAC Midgets/ARCA trucks feature races begin.
  • 10 a.m.: Gates open
  • 10:30-11:45 a.m.: Autograph session (Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Brett Bodine and Ernie Irvan)
  • 1 p.m.: NASCAR Winston Cup Drivers Legends Celebrity Race
  • 2 p.m.: ARCA RE/MAX Kentucky 150 race
  • Special Ky. Speedway section
        “There's nothing like this around here, so that makes it extra special,” Lanigan said. “It's neat to get out there in front of your home crowd.”

        Area racers scheduled to drive include:

        • Tonight — ARCA truck race: Darren Jones, Jeff Speakman, Jeff Wichmann and John Witham; Midget Car race: J.D. Turner.

        • Saturday — ARCA stock race: Jeff Alsip, Willie Green, Larry Kennedy, Lanigan, Jeep Pflum.

        Most of the locals have driven at tracks around the country but rarely drive on tracks the size of 1 1/2-mile, 66,000-seat Kentucky Speedway.

        “That should give everyone extra motivation,” Lanigan said.

        Stewart, who won last week's Winston Cup race at Richmond, is a former USAC Midget champion. The Rushville, Ind., native also is chasing his dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 and will practice at Indy today. He is scheduled to leave Indy around 7 p.m. to fly by helicopter to Kentucky Speed way, drive in the Midget race, then sign autographs after the race.

        Speedway officials expect more than 15,000 for tonight's race and perhaps 35,000 Saturday.

        “We should have above-normal crowds for what these series usually get,” Speedway chairman Jerry Carroll said. “Tony Stewart is a pretty big attraction.”

        The season's featured race, a NASCAR Busch event June 16, is expected to be a sellout.

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Special Ky. Speedway section

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