From Staff Reports
Throughout his career, Jimmy Kite has been known as an open wheel driver.
Kite, of Stockbridge just sees himself as a racer. a racer that is enjoying his time in NASCAR. Known as the "Gateway to the West", few cities seem a more appropriate backdrop for Kite's return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series than St. Louis.
Not only is the city the transition point from east to west, but Missouri is the center of Kite's family roots.
Having taken his first NASCAR green flag at his hometown track, Atlanta Motor Speedway, in March, Gateway International Raceway is Kite's 'home away from home' track.
Making the transition even more apparent, for the first time since 1998, the Indianapolis 500 veteran will have his focus somewhere other than Indianapolis this May.
Kite will return to the No. 06 MRD Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado for the April 30th Ram Tough 200 at Gateway while his third NASCAR race will come a few weeks later at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.
Kite sees his second Truck Series' race as the next logical step in his progression to more NASCAR sanctioned racing.
"It's been over a month since our last race. As much fun as we had at Atlanta, I can't wait for this one and for Charlotte,"said Kite about his return to the Truck Series.
"It'll be nice to run another race in the MRD Truck. I'm excited about working with Bryan [Berry, crew chief] and the guys some more. We had a good run at Atlanta and I'm ready to build on what we've learned. I still have a ton to learn in these things. Just learning what the truck needs for a full fuel stint is the biggest thing I need to find out. It's not working on getting the truck fast for one or two laps. It's knowing when we make a change will this be a good or bad change 20 laps into the run? It's still trial and error right now."
Kite, whose family is from the nearby communities of Park Hills and Leadwood, Mo., recently completed a successful test of the newly ground surface of the 1.25-mile Gateway facility.
The test proved productive for the 1997 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year and MRD Motorsports crew chief Bryan Berry.
With Kite now comfortable in the No. 06, the test focused on getting the Dave Malcolmson-owned truck setup to be fast throughout qualifying and the race.
With the Gateway test under his belt, Kite feels the knowledge he and the MRD team took from the Madison, Illinois-area track will help the team tremendously on April 30th.
"It's good to be going back to a track that we've tested on," Kite reflected on the Gateway test. "I don't have to use that first practice session learning a truck and Gateway. We don't have to waste the session figuring out my braking points and lines. I've already learned how deep you can go in, how far is too far. What's fast, what's not. I'm comfortable. Now I just have to learn what will be fast race day."
Following Gateway, Kite will race in The Quaker Steak & Lube 200 presented by Click It or Ticket Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe's Motors Speedway in Charlotte on May 20th.
Live coverage of the Ram Tough 200 can be seen on SPEED at 8 pm (ET), Saturday, April 30.