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Ken Finishes Eighth In Taylor Racing Products Pro Trucks At Orlando Speedworld
Although only his second race of the season, Ken is learning quickly some of the do's and don'ts of racing on the big track and what it takes to race with "the big guys!" It was a busy night for the Ken Lilley Racing Team and certainly a memorable one, from the time they pulled into the pits until the last conversation of the evening.
To start things off on this night Ken, as the only novice driver present, was told when he arrived that he would be racing with the upper division for the first time. The rules were laid out - start in the back, stay out of the way and stay out of trouble. This would be easy at the start, but with adrenaline pumping it wouldn't take long for Ken to add his #17 Chevy Pro Truck machine to the list of competition.
Earlier the rush had come from hurrying to get out on the track for as much practice as possible before the racing began. Given all the work they had completed on the truck during the last month it was no surprise why the practice sessions were of such critical importance. The team had been wrenching on the truck right up until yesterday leaving no time for testing before race night. With a completely new front end and brand new set-up Ken and his team concentrated on acquiring valuable seat time, but with time restraints were only able to complete one 10 lap practice session. However, it was evident all the hard work had paid off. "It's like a brand new truck," said Ken. "The truck handled great getting through the corners and I feel pretty comfortable."
Soon the field of 13 Pro Trucks was firing up their engines for their 25 lap Taylor Racing Products Pro Truck event. Ken rolled into line as they headed onto the race track to take their starting positions. Ken was hard on the throttle once the green flag dropped. Unfortunately he had gotten caught behind on the start. And so began the hunt. After a few smooth laps around the track he was able to chase down the truck ahead of him for his first real battle. He made a clean pass and the driver struggled to keep pace with and pressure on Ken's #17 Chevy. Ken cleared him a few laps later.
The lead pack had pulled away but caution on the track for another incident was the luck Ken needed. When the race restarted Ken was back with the pack and racing hard. Several more cautions would occur as several drivers would end up tangled and mangled as they tried to carve out their own lanes racing for position. Ken was able to avoid being caught up in any of these incidences and advanced in the line-up as drivers were sent to the rear.
"Rubbing is racing" as the old saying goes and Ken had his share of thrills too. During the race as he was coming down the backstretch he eased up slightly toward the high side of the track only to find, to his surprise, that the #33 Fountain Motorsports Pro Truck was already there and making a run on the outside for the pass. Ken held it down as they went side by side into turn 3 with Fountain taking the position as they exited turn 4. In the end Ken brought home an 8th place finish, although technically as a novice driver race officials would remove him from the final finishing order of the race and score him as the winner of the Novice Pro Truck Division.
Ken had this to say about his performance, "We came prepared to race tonight with much better equipment than we had a month ago. I tried to be smooth and not use up my tires too much so I'd have something at the end. Since this was my first real race, I'm pretty happy with how I did."
Ken was aware of his mistake on the backstretch and after the race approached Mr. Fountain to apologize. He told Ken he had nothing to apologize for, it was just racing. The veteran driver was very gracious and understood it was unintentional saying, "Had I thought you did it on purpose you wouldn't be in this trailer talking to me, I would have turned you." He went on to say, "If you keep driving the way you're driving, you'll end up driving for me." Had it been anything other than a rookie mistake he would have found a different way (one probably involving the wall) to demonstrate that valuable racing lesson - you get respect when you give respect. Ken walked out of the Fountain trailer feeling as though he had gotten good advice.
It proved to be an exciting race night for the Ken Lilley Racing Team.
Ken and his team now turn their focus forward to another race in two weeks and the possibility of racing again with the upper division in the Taylor Racing Products sponsored 50 lap Pro Truck feature event on May 15 at Orlando Speedworld.
(Click Here to view photos from race night)