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Kite makes race history in Texas

From staff reports

Stockbridge's Jimmy Kite made motorsports history this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kite, who is best known as an Indy Racing IndyCar Series driver but is a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie this season, became the first person to ever race an IndyCar and Craftsman Truck Series event on the same track on the same weekend.

Kite piloted the No. 06 Royal Purple/ XXtreme Group LLC/MRD Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado on Friday night at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth-area oval. He then raced the No. 91 Ethanol-Remy-Life Fitness Dallara-Toyota on Saturday night at the track.

No one since Gordon Johncock in 1980 has attempted to race a stock car style vehicle and an open wheel Indy car on the same track on the same weekend. No one has ever tried the feat in NASCAR-sanctioned and Indy Racing League-sanctioned events.

Kite, who debuted in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, placed the red and yellow, Dave Malcolmson-owned Chevy 32nd on the grid for Friday evening's Chex 400k Craftsman Truck Series event.

Making only his third start in the MRD Truck, Kite ran a strong race while crew chief Bryan Berry continued to make changes to the handling throughout the race. Kite would cross the finish line in 24th position as the highest finishing rookie earning the Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award.

Kite currently sits sixth in the season-long Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award standings.

"It was another tough weekend but we're making a lot of progress on both sides of the program," Kite said. "The Royal Purple/ XXtreme MRD Chevy was pretty tight most of the weekend so we kept tuning on it. We eventually got it pretty fast at the end of the race but I just ran out of time to get further to the front. I could run real well on my own but as soon as I chased the group down the truck in front of me would take the air away and I'd have to lift. That was frustrating but we're getting there with the MRD Truck and I'm looking forward to racing at Kansas in a few weeks. They're working really hard back at the shop to get us some more horsepower. The same thing is true for the Ethanol-Hemelgarn guys."

The following evening, while those competitors he raced against in the NASCAR Series were packing to head home, Kite was sliding behind the wheel of the Ethanol-Hemelgarn IndyCar.

Having qualified 17th for the Bombardier Learjet 500, Kite was immediately quick with the Toyota-powered machine and was moving to the front. However, an expected mechanical failure turned the car quickly sideways into the turn-two wall on lap six.

Kite's day ended with a 22nd-place finish following the hard, rear impact.

Kite will now head to Richmond International Raceway with the No. 91 Ethanol/ Remy/ Life Fitness Toyota on June 25.

Kite will attempt another double at his next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on July 2. The No. 06 MRD Motorsports Chevy Silverado will next take to the track at Kansas Speedway the same weekend that the IndyCar Series is at the Midwest-facility.

"We made a lot of progress since Indy," Kite said. "I could run with the guys in the draft really well and pretty good on my own too. We're not sure what happened with the spin. There are a few different ideas but it was definitely something mechanical. Whatever it was, it hurt when it went bad. I'm feeling fine now but it was a pretty hard hit. The SAFER barrier really worked, that was the first time I had tested those. I hope that's the last time too. I'm looking to racing at Richmond. I love that track in the Silver Crown car and am eager to give it a shot in the IndyCar."

To learn more about Jimmy Kite, please visit www.JimmyKite.com. For the Jimmy Kite Fan Club, log-on to www.JimmyKiteFans.com. To keep in touch with Jimmy and the MRD Motorsports Team go to www.TeamMRD.com. For more on Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing, please see www.HemelgarnRacing.com.