XENIA — For Ryan Fleming, having Kil-Kare Raceway open once again has been like coming home to race.
“I live about a mile and a half up the street from here. You can almost throw a rock and reach here,” Fleming said with a smile. He was at Kil-Kare once again for the third late model race in the Gem City Auto Racing series. The 22-year-old Xenia driver is off to a solid start in the series, with two wins in the first two weeks of racing.
Fleming laughed when he was asked to compare Kil-Kare’s D-shaped paved .375-mile oval to other tracks he’s raced on.
“It’s not even comparable. Most of the other tracks are actually in a race track oval of a shape. It’s definitely different,” he said. “Everybody says that if you can get around Kil-Kare, you can get around anywhere. … I love this place. It’s the first race track I ever raced on. Around here, it’s by far the most fun track to run on.
“It’s different. You can race. Some of the other tracks you go to, there’s only one racing groove. There’s easily two here. You can race side-by-side. It’s two lanes of racing almost the whole way around.
NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip once said Kil-Kare was the only oval he’d been on that had 14 turns on it. Fleming kind of agrees with Waltrip’s assessment of the many turns.
“It bounces back and fourth between 14 and 17 among the drivers, I think,” Fleming laughed. “I don’t think (the turns) ever end, really. You can’t even count ‘em. They just keep goin’.”
Four turns are marked on the outside retaining walls, but there’s a question mark after each one.
Fleming agrees that his familiarity with the track has helped him thus far this season. He’s father, Don, also raced at Kil-Kare and Ryan was in the paddock grand stands cheering his dad to victory even then.
“Compared to other tracks, if you took this car set-up to other tracks, they’d think you were crazy. The set-up is just way out of the ballpark,” Fleming said. “Dad’s raced here for years. We just know what the car’s like here.”
Fleming’s familiarity with Kil-Kare’s constant turns may have drawn some contempt from at least one competitor during Sunday’s May 8 race.
The field for the Late Model feature race had been inverted by 10, so Fleming started the race in eighth place. Five laps was all it took for the bright-orange No. 1 Chevy to get around Chad Pendleton’s all-black No. 22 machine for the lead.
The Xenia driver led until lap 32. That’s when a back marker spunout, bunching up the field for a restart.
With Columbus’s David Carter Jr. starting next to Fleming on the double-file restart, and battled Fleming for the front spot the rest of the way. Then on lap 35, Carter got inside of Fleming as the two exited Turn 4, and the two machines made contact. Fleming got the worst of the bump and spun out.
Track officials ruled it as a racing incident, with no intent to wreck on Carter’s part. And since Fleming had spun out, he was relegated to the back of the line of cars that remained on the lead lap.
Carter went on to win the race, with Pendleton second. Fleming finished seventh in the 18-car event.
In Sunday’s other races, Columbus polesitter Jacob Muncy got the lead with seven laps to go in the 25-lap Street Stock feature and stayed out front the rest of the way for his second series win of the season.
Kettering’s Jamie Sites grabbed the lead on Lap 5 of the Modified division’s 35-lap feature and took the win, and Columbus’ Trey Gregory nabbed his second win in as many tries in the 20-lap compact feature.
The next GCAR series event is scheduled for June 4. That will also be the date for the annual
Robbie Dean Memorial late model stock car race, a 94-lap affair in recognition of the late short-track racing legend, who
often drove car No. 94. According to the GCAR website (GemCityAutoRacing.com) a full series of Late Model, E-Modifieds, Street Stocks and Compact, as well as a large expected field of the region’s top late models for the Robbie Dean race, ill be on hand.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.