Kentucky Speedway announces 2006 schedule
by STEVE VANTREESE
SPARTA - Kentucky Speedway has announced its 2006 schedule will feature four race weekends, nine race events showcasing eight race series and popular prerace entertainment.
“I am extremely pleased with our 2006 schedule,” Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis said. “We're moving full steam ahead to host as many race events as possible and are in negotiations to host at least two major stand-alone concerts similar to last season's Tim McGraw event, which really put us on the map as a state-of-the-art concert venue.
“Our goal is to operate more than 300 days in 2006 via races, concerts, driving schools, NASCAR and Indy Racing League testing as well as organizational rentals. I have 110 percent confidence our team will do just that.”
The May, June and July prerace entertainment lineup and stand-alone concerts will be announced on future dates.
During the 2005 race season, Prestonsburg ARCA driver Steve Blackburn had the opportunity to take to the Kentucky Speedway track for an ARCA event.
“Kentucky Speedway is a great track,” Blackburn said. “We had a great time racing there and can't wait to go back.”
The 2006 race season will open May 13 with the first of two scheduled ARCA RE/MAX Series races. “The Kentucky 150” will take the green flag May 13 at 8 p.m. The series also visited twice in 2005. Seven-time series champion Frank Kimmel scored his fourth series win at the track last July and Chad Blount took his second series speedway win in May. The series also produced the second female pole award winner in track history when Evernham Motorsports driver Erin Crocker started on the inside of the front row in July. Crocker, 25, who will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2006, outdistanced second-place qualifier Blount by 2.837 mph with a 172.883-mph lap. The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will officially open the speedway season with a 100-lap battle on the paved quarter-mile track earlier in the day.
Prime time action continues June 16-17 when the NASCAR Busch Series visits the speedway for “The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo” and the USAC Silver Crown Series makes its speedway debut in “The Kentucky 100.” Forty-three Busch Series drivers will start their campaigns for “The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo” title at 8:00 p.m., on June 17. The series, which has attracted an average crowd of 70,686 to the 66,000-seat venue through five events, will attempt to draw its sixth consecutive sellout crowd. Last season, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series star Carl Edwards claimed his second career win at the speedway after making a late-race charge to overtake Martin Truex, Jr. Edwards then treated fans to his signature celebratory backflip. He took his first speedway win in 2003 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The new generation USAC Silver Crown Series will share the stage for the speedway's largest event of the summer on June 16 on “NASCAR Busch Series Pole Night.” Specially-designed USAC cars are engineered to race at speeds of more than 155 mph on 1.5-mile tracks such as Kentucky Speedway. The 67-lap race will be the fourth of 13 races on the USAC Silver Crown schedule and will follow NASCAR Busch Series qualifying.
An interesting mix of veteran and up-and-coming talent will be on display July 7-8 when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series splits the weekend ledger with the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series leader Dennis Setzer will attempt to defend his 2005 “Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers” title when the green flag drops at 8:00 p.m. Weekend action opens July 7 at 8 pm., with the ARCA RE/MAX Series “WLWT Channel 5 150” and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying on “WLWT-TV Channel 5 Pole Night.” The USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series will take to the paved quarter-mile track for qualifying heats and feature races prior to the truck series tussle.
Open-wheel machines and an international field of driving stars will be the focus of the August 12-13 weekend when the Indy Racing League delivers action at more than 200 mph with its IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series. Last season, Rahal Letterman driver Danica Patrick became the third female to start a Kentucky Speedway race from the pole position and the second to start an IndyCar Series event from the top spot. Patrick earned her first Kentucky Speedway pole award on the merit of her combined practice speeds when qualifying was canceled due to weather. Patrick may have owned the qualifying headlines, but series veteran Scott Sharp delivered the top story of the weekend when he gave Fernandez Racing its second consecutive Kentucky win by entering Victory Lane for the first time at the speedway. Sharp out dueled reigning series champion Dan Wheldon of Andretti Green Racing before nipping Rahal Letterman driver Vitor Meira by 0.0779 of a second at the finish line in the second-closest series finish in track history. The finish also marked the third time a series race at the speedway was decided by a margin of less than one second through five events. “The Kentucky Indy 300” is slated for a 4:00 p.m. start. Both series open the weekend August 12 at noon with practice and qualifying on “Indy Racing League Pole Day.”
Season tickets will go on sale Monday, Oct. 31. Packages range from $165 to $255 depending on seat location. Season ticket members also will have the option to purchase admission to three Outback Steakhouse Tailgate Parties. The June, July and August parties will feature driver meet-and-greet sessions, Outback Steakhouse catering, Coca-Cola beverages, music, games and more.
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