BUSCH: IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: Trio demolishes modified record

BRASELTON, GEORGIA, Thursday, July 20, 2000 - Three of motorsports most versatile racers obliterated the previous Lanier National Speedway Featherlite Modified track record today. Indy Racing Northern Light Series driver Jimmy Kite of ...

BUSCH: IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: Trio demolishes modified record

BRASELTON, GEORGIA, Thursday, July 20, 2000 - Three of motorsports most versatile racers obliterated the previous Lanier National Speedway Featherlite Modified track record today. Indy Racing Northern Light Series driver Jimmy Kite of Stockbridge, Georgia, two-time Indianapolis 500 starter and aspiring NASCAR stock car racer Richie Hearn (Henderson, Nevada) as well as former motorcycle racer Mike Hale (Fort Worth, Texas) piloted the super-quick, stock-block-powered cars. Mike Loescher of the FinishLine Racing School (finishlineracing.com) directed the record attempts by the three FinishLine Racing School graduates.

Kite, who drives the #27 Big Daddy’s BBQ/ Founders Bank/ Blueprint Racing G Force in the Northern Light Series, set the overall fast time at 3/8ths-mile paved oval. The three-time Indy starter turned a time of 12.96-seconds at 9:36 AM. Hearn pulled the second quick time of the day with a lap at 13.02-seconds set shortly after Kite’s run. Mike Hale, running for the first time on the track and in the style of car, turned an impressive 13.40-second time. The previous Featherlite Modified track record was 13.64-seconds, while the overall Lanier record-set by a winged-sprint car-stands at 11.80 seconds.

“I’m glad that Mike [Loescher] called me to do this,” said Kite who has run previously in two winged-sprint car and one USAC Midget race at the track. “It is always fun to go out and get to go fast. You just put together the fastest lap you can… but without the pressure of qualifying our Big Daddy’s/ Blueprint G Force. Richie [Hearn] has so much experience and is always fast so I knew he’d be tough to beat. Mike [Hale] is such a legend in motorcycles, I knew he’d be fast too. To beat these two guys in the same car, in the same conditions is really pretty cool. I appreciate Mike asking me to come and do it.”

All three drivers were fighting the Georgia-heat and increasing track temperatures. The records were all set with that track temperature well above the 100-degree mark.

“I love it when a plan comes together,” enthused Loescher, founder of FinishLine Racing School. “Fantastic job by the drivers and by my FinishLine School team. To take three guys that have never raced one of these cars and break the track record with all three is just perfect!”

The first to break the record was Hearn. “I haven’t been doing much and any time you get to knock the dust off it’s a good idea,” said Hearn who hopes to race in more open wheel and stock car events this year. “I’m glad I broke the record but more for Mike than for me. He taught me a lot about how to drive a stock car so this is a small payback. This modified sure is fun to drive. I could have run it all day!”

Hale certainly proved that his continuing transition from two-wheels to four-wheels should be a smooth one. “For me it’s a good start,” understated Hale. “I’d like some more seat time but what few laps we did I am really happy with. I was out there for the seat time so I am happy.”

Kite has competed in three Indianapolis 500s and finished 12th at Saturday’s Midas 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He currently sits 24th in the Northern Light Series points standings. While primarily an open-wheel racer, Kite has two competitive stock car races under his belt- both 1998 ARCA events.

Hearn ran to a third-place finish as a rookie at Indianapolis in 1996 and to 27th in 2000- due to an engine failure. The three-year CART veteran currently is putting together a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series program to compete in some remaining 2000 races and throughout 2001.

Hale joins the group with the least amount of four-wheeled racing seat time. Having competed in 600 Super Sport, the US and World Super Bike Series and the GP 500, Hale now turns his attention to building an auto racing career with aspiration of reaching the Winston Cup ranks.

The cars, prepared by the school at its Daytona Beach, Florida facility, were Featherlite Modified Series-legal and all times were measured using a certified timing light.

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