Ken's Season in Review
We missed the first two races of the season, both at Attica Raceway Park, before we got things figured out. Not awful, considering just two weeks prior to ARP's opening date, the call was made to mechanics David Keegan and Kenny Sutton, to "get the ball rolling, we were racing". Over that winter, it was decided that Jody take some time off and sold everything, but the
engine. With a borrowed trailer and a mad dash in the shop, we were ready for 2001.
We all loved the Maxim chassis and Jody felt real comfortable with its handling characteristics at Attica. On April 13, Jody sat on the pole of his heat race and lead thru halfway. Chad Kemenah passed us to win, but we ran second all while still getting more comfortable with the car. We ran a special dash that night and made it through the feature. The crew made a wrong tire choice in the feature.
We worked hard in the shop that week, accomplishing a lot. Still knit-picking at what we had overlooked while hurrying to initially get to the track. It paid off, as we made the All Star Circuit of Champions race at ARP
on April 21. We started on the front row of our heat and shot into the lead, never to be challenged by runner-up Ed Lynch, Jr. Jody started the feature 17th, and
finished 14th after 40 laps. The #K60 weighed 1330 lbs. at the scales.
The opener at Fremont Speedway, an All Star show on April 28th, quickly reminded us of how bad we struggled there the previous year. We qualified in the inversion, but embarrassed ourselves in the heat race, going from 2nd to 9th. No fun!
The following race at Attica on May 4th, gave us fresh air. Starting 6th in his heat, he fought his way to a 3rd place finish. Never had Jody been so "steaming", after his heat. We found the right rear wheel mud cover was no match for the tall cushion and the wheel was mud packed. Jody ran that heat with 75% throttle, and was disappointed with himself. He's a racer. In the
feature, he had good seat time and was scored 10th.
We missed the race at Fremont, again, the following night. Six days later at ARP on May 11, we started what was to be an ordeal with our Goodyear Tires, often ballooning and shrinking during a race. We missed the transfer in the heat, with the tire set losing 1.25 inches of stagger. With a different tire set on for the B-main, we gained .5 inch of stagger. After several weeks, we
finally gave up hope on Goodyear - something we never thought we would ever do.
We tried a new setup at Fremont on May 12. Not bad. We broke the track record in qualifying, only for a few minutes, as did two other cars. We had 3rd place wrapped up by a long shot, only to have the right rear wheel's center splines burn out with 4 laps to go. On a red flag, the crew moved the RR tire out a .5 inch, which turned out to be at least .125 inch too much. Bummer!
A week later, we were back at Fremont. Again we left scratching more holes in our head. We won the heat and crossed the line 2nd in the pursuit, but stunk up the house in the feature.
June 1st we showed up at Attica only to fight a tight setup. We missed that feature and should not have. KJ (Kenny) embarrassed himself with his stagger/wheel spacing selection. From that race on, the car only got better at ARP.
On Friday, June 8, we traveled eastbound to Sharon Speedway. Jody's first race on a 1/2 mile track. With the crew's experience and Kenny's knowledge of big track racing, Jody was in good hands. It was just a matter of the driver being comfortable with the increased wing speed. The car needed a step more gear, but it was enough for Jody to blast his way from 23rd to 6 in only 20 laps. He looked very much in control for his first 1/2 miler and we had a blast. The Kistler Engine Maxim chassis was at least a second place car that night.
The following night, we tried Mercer Raceway Park in Pennsylvania. Another first time visit, and David and Kenny dove in with their own setup. The only disappointment here was the crew couldn't walk the track to get a feel during breaks of action. The crew finally hit the track during a red, which all that could be done was add fuel. Jody ran a good race, with a broken motor mount tab, and with the motor missing from a slice in the radiator which sprayed water into the plugs wires. Jody started 24th and was headed to a top ten finish with all that happened, but mistakenly did not take the checker and was scored 15th. The Hoosier right rear tire also came in with 2 pounds of air pressure, due to a leak in the bead of the tire.
All repairs were made the next morning, and we entered Sunday's race at Tri-City, another 1/2 miler in Pa. Jody loved this place, even with an ill setup, but we were rained out after the heat races and turned for home.
Our return to Fremont was made on June 16. We've never looked, nor felt so bad. Jody was pissed, David felt awful, and Kenny hid till it was time to leave. Nobody was mad at each other, just at the frustration that Fremont was giving us. We started 16th and pulled in, finishing were we started.
Ah...back at Attica with the All Stars on June 23. With Jody starting 7th in his heat, the night appeared to be a battle. Early he drove off turn three, causing a caution. He was mad at himself and banziaed the field into a
transfer on the restart. Near the end of that heat race, the radiator's gash that we repaired on our trip East, reopened and the motor ran hot. We installed a new radiator and had fun racing in the feature. With 24 cars on the track at Attica, its somewhat easy to go a lap down early, and that's just what happened. However, we diced with the leaders lap after lap. Talking with fans after the event, they thought we were racing for the win.
The car was great, in fact never better at that point in the year.
Headed back to Fremont on June 23. The track was great all night, smooth and tacky. With the car being a tad tight on exit, we knew it would be good as the night progressed. We came to the track with a new bar configuration, and left the setup the same through the heat race. Jody was second fastest in qualifying, rocketed to 3rd place in the heat only to slip up near the end and finished 5th. In the feature, he started 7th, as the quick qualifier drew the #8 slot for the inversion. Driving hard each lap, he would have finished 6th. However, a little anxious move in turn three on the final lap turned into a bad finish, as he cocked the car sideways and came to a halt. Finished 9th.
At Attica, with a great race car on June 29, luck just didn't go our way. Starting 10th in the heat race, Jody continued to impress onlookers flying to a 3rd place finish. We were to start 5th in the feature, but a tangle
between other cars, sent us pitside with a flat right rear tire before the initial green. David and Kenny quickly had Jody back on the track, with a tire change, at the rear for the start. After turn two on the first lap, Jody zipped past 6 cars utilizing Attica's famous cushion. At the end he worked his way up to 11th, but settled for 13th with a blistered tire. The crew had replaced the right rear tire with a soft compound, the correct move,
but didn't last. We all had fun, just wish we had stayed up front for the initial start.
A return to Fremont Speedway on June 30, ended with disappointment. Started 10th in the feature, and had two red flag opportunities to adjust the car to make it better. It just didn't work. We finished 8th, with rejection. We ended up with an inch more stagger, far more than desired which didn't help. Fremont is one tough track to tame in our book.
Attica's Ohio Speedweek opener was to be the start of a good week with the selected shows that we were to run. We missed the qualifying inversion with some of the best cars in the country on hand. Sunset was perfect in turn four, perfect enough to blind Jody's exit each lap. We sucked it up, and ran the B-main. The #K60 sprinter was hog wild in the B-main, moving around the track in desperation to get to the front. We missed the race, and in our notebook, its reads "Sad".
Off to Wayne County Speedway for the second round of Ohio Speedweek. Here we had ran good the previous year, only to nabbed from making the 2000 feature,
with a driver taking a champions provisional to start the race. Our qualifying mark was off pace, to be expected with a late qualifying attempt. When things settled in the heat race, we chased Donnie Krietz, Jr. to the
checker, neither of us transferred. A few adjustments to the car were made and we had fun dueling with Rodney Duncan lap after lap till the end, but again we ended up back at the shop early that night.
Day three of Ohio Speedweek, was at the track we least expected to make the show with the All Star Circuit of Champions - Fremont Speedway. Even while missing the inversion, KJ let it be known to Jody that "the car was gonna be good" for the heat race. Jody, being one of the fan favorites, had the crowd's attention as he battled with and ahead of Greg Wilson and Danny Smith
to finish 4th and making the feature event. Starting last, we were lapped quickly while shuffling in line, and the caution came out. We restarted keeping pace, at times even trying to pass the leader. The crew chose the softest compound in the field, and had little tire wear. Jody was running midpack only to slide into a stopped Shane Stewart, who was running second at
the time. The crew gave the "ok" and Jody finished out the race with a 21st place score. That was a fun night. At the scales, the car weighed 1289 lbs. after 40 laps.
With the motor back from being refreshened from Kistler Engines, we were ready for the rest of the season. At Attica Raceway Park on July 13, we sucked up another bad night. Jody had a major league lead on Byron Reed in the heat race, only to have a major motor stumble on a caution restart that sent us back to 5th. The motor ran great out front with minimal throttle
lift, but that caution killed us. Paul Kistler quickly arrived with another magneto, and the change was made. We started 14th in the feature, and ran up to 11th within a few laps, only to pull in. With the motor running over 240 degrees, it was time to call it quits for the evening. Later we found a water leak, causing the great increase in temperature. Dejected, because we just got the motor back.
The following night at Fremont, we qualified bad, yet won the heat race. Started 18th in the feature, ran 11th, but scored for 16th. A mixup had taken place in the scoring tower on the last lap. We protested, and was
given our due points and pay for finishing 11th.
Nobody within the team knew it, but the Brad Doty Classic at Attica Raceway Park was the most important event to race in for mechanic Kenny Sutton. Confidence was high behind the scenes, now it was just up to the driver. In heat race action, Jody started last and finished last after skipping over the cushion and coming to a stop off of the turn three apex. The crew dialed the
car in perfectly for the B-main. Jody started in ninth position and was about to pass positions 6th, 5th, and 4th when an out-of-control racer slammed Jody off into turn 4. The crew, being very frustrated, exchanged
words with the crazy driver's crew, meanwhile Jody retaliated with a rear-end bump on the following caution lap to that driver resulting in a black flap. A promoter's provisional was given, but given to a driver that towed in from four states away, instead of us - a fan favorite racer that supported the track every week. That race was ours. A big insult to the entire #K60 operation.
We threw in, yet, another bar configuration for Fremont on July 28. He turned in a bad single lap qualifying effort for 5th fastest. Jody simply drove around the competitors in the heat race, but fell short and crossed the line in second place. The track was somewhat rough in turns one and two, but Jody held on and finished 5th.
Its the dog days of summer, hot and dry. We were at Attica's August 3 show. The All Star Circuit of Champions series had a night off, and many of the
country's best showed up to tune up for upcoming shows. Nearly all of them were in our heat. No excuses, but it was single file from start to finish. We started 6th and finished 7th. No complaints. We started 3rd in the
B-main, and literally smashed the field. We liked to think the car was great, but Kenny and David figured the rest of crews misread the track and were out to lunch. With that win, we started 16th in the feature. The crew
watched with amazement, as Jody shot into 8th position within 4 laps, no exaggeration. It was a great run, leaving Todd Heller in the dust, Rodney Duncan was in the way, and eventual track champion John Ivy no match. The car was so fast, Jody's inexperience got the best of him and cocked it sideways, only to be overtaken and sent a lap down. A caution and restart
with less than 10 laps to go, saw Greg Wilson with the lead, the lapped car of #K60, and Mark Keegan in second. Jody was clean on Wilson's bumper, but
heavily challenged by cousin Mark. Jody decided to let Mark by, as he did not want to be a factor in the outcome. However, Jody's car was so fast, Mark was in the way and tried to pass him back. With a veteran move, Mark slid and spooked Jody off the track on the last lap. We finished 12th. Some grandstand sitters saw it as Jody racing with the leaders AND being in the
way. But, when a car and driver is so good, what's a racer supposed to do - fall back and race with the back markers? The Keegan Racing/Sutton Motorsports Maxim chassis was a second place car on this night, and that's
how we came to race.
It was off to Fremont the next night. Mark another sad racing effort. Ran second in the heat race, with a sad handling car. Started 10th and finished 12th in the feature. Again, we left with bigger holes in our head.
Fingernails wearing thin from scratching so much. The following week, we tore our heads off at Fremont, not even making the feature. It just doesn't suit our game plan.
We took some time off at the end of the summer as the racing season was winding down, but the team packed up for one last weekend, hoping to have fun
at Mercer Raceway Park on September 8th. We drew the 6th starting spot in the heat race. Jody slid into 3rd with ease, gaining on the leaders. The sprinter drifted high on exit in turn four and skated into the front stretch
wall. Crud! The car needed a front axle change, along with a wheel, and some radius rods. As Jody sat in his chair, focusing on his task in the B-main, David and Kenny made repairs without breaking a sweat. The crew
focused on the feature, as Jody made mince meat of the B-main. He started 6th, and won by a full straight-away. We sent Jody out there with our best
shot, but could have been a lot better. He made the best of it, running from 21st to 7th, only to be overtaken by Ed Lynch, Jr. in the final laps.
The following day, we concluded our season with a visit to Latrobe Speedway. Latrobe - home of Rolling Rock beer. This track, labeled a 1/2 mile, was bigger than Sharon, making it a challenge for the driver. Never fear, rely on Kenny and crew for big track experience. With a comfortable setup, Jody cruised from 7th to 4th in the heat race. The team used some experimental tire choices for the 20 lap feature. Fine tuning adjustments were made. Jody looked so good each lap. The tire choices were compatible with the racing surface, as he would have jolted into 3rd several times, but cautions flags cooled our tire selection. Jody finished 6th, in only his second race on a 1/2 miler.
The 2001 season was outstanding, comparing it with 2000. We had raced new tracks, competed well on first visits to 1/2 mile tracks, had a blast, and most important - Jody evolved into a respected, controlled 410 sprint car driver.
The Keegan Racing #K60 sprint car team marketed Kendrick Jarrett Sutton Motorsports, Victory Lane Vinyl Graphics, Derek's Sports Bar & Grill, Greber Powder
Coating, and Maxim chassis through an outstanding 2001 season.
The Keegan Racing #K60 organization would like to recognize the following for their work, dedication, and support....David Keegan, mechanic - "The best
right hand man in the country!" as Kenny says. Kenny Sutton, mechanic/partner - Kendrick Jarrett Sutton Motorsports, Victory Lane Vinyl Graphics with Buffy and Ron Bordner making our car sizzle under the lights, Ken Greber of Greber Powder Coating - giving our fans the greatest chassis coat available, De Genzman and Derek Sports Bar & Grill - one of the biggest contributors in 2000, Paul Kistler Engines - dynamite engine performance, Shirley Kear and Kear's Speed Shop (Shirley, Micki, Mark, Brian) - thank God, Mark Keegan, Larry Keegan, and Jim Linder - their work, advice, and presence are greatly appreciated, Phil Gressman, Whaley Racing, "The Big Cat" Scott Kraylek, Ron & Buffy Bordner, Stout Family Racing, Kaeding Performance,
George Litten, and you - the fan! If you were not in the stands, why race.
2002 Update...The Maxim chassis will be set aside for a sure bet backup car. The entire team will be back and start the season with a 2001 Eagle chassis. Also new, our 410 engine is being serviced by another engine builder, to be named at a later date. The team is currently working hard in the shop, shaving weight off the car. Racing with at least 50+ pounds more than the
rest of the field was our biggest factor in 2001.
Sutton Motorsports steps up its motorsports marketing program and continues its support with the #K60
team. Victory Lane Vinyl Graphics will provide graphic details with their technologically advanced graphing system. Greber Powder Coating continues to spray its award winning chassis powder coat. Much anticipated announcements will be made after the new year. 2002 will be grand for Keegan Racing/Sutton Motorsports!