ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Coming off a career-best finish on the Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP, Stephen Kemery has adjusted a busy schedule to compete in the NAPA Know How events at Boardwalk Hall.
In the aftermath of a brilliant second place finish in the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, the Sicklerville, N.J. TQ Midget driver had a surprise revelation to share with journalists at a post-race press conference.
“I won’t be able to run in Atlantic City. I have a college course all day Saturday in Philadelphia and won’t be able to make the race,” said Kemery of the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 races.
Kemery, however, changed his mind when he discovered he had misread the Saturday time schedule of events for race number three on the BELFOR Concrete Series.
“I came out of Allentown so pleased with what we had done. I had run most every one of the Indoor races for four years and the best I had ever done was 10th until Allentown,” said Kemery, who rebounded from the rear after an early spin to have a shot at the win on the final lap.
“I knew we were good there because I was in the top five for the first three practice sessions.”
To race this weekend, Kemery will be on an extremely tight schedule.
“I thought I had read that the Saturday show started at 6 p.m., but when I looked a second time, I realized I had another hour with the show starting at 7. It’s still going to be really tight, but it’s possible.”
Kemery, 30, is in the midst of a rigorous Executive MBA curriculum at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pa.
His class on Feb. 1, as it happens, is a particularly vital one.
“It’s the only class I can’t miss, I might be able to get out half an hour early and I think the drive can be done in under an hour and a half without traffic.”
Kemery will have the opportunity to take time and, hopefully, finish among the top two in one of the four A-Main qualifier races to be run Friday night. If he does, all pressure will be off his shoulders.
If he doesn’t, he’ll face a daunting challenge, one compressed by his time constraints.
Kemery will be driving a four year old Hyper Hugger chassis with a 600cc Dave Orange engine powering it.
Based on his strong showing on the Saturday night event in Allentown, Kemery, as well as other 600cc powered cars racing against those with 750s, are enthused about this race.
“Anthony Sesely (a three-time Atlantic City Gambler’s Classic winner), Kyle Lick and me were all taking about how well we all did in Allentown against the 750cc TQs,” said Kemery.
“The way the track was in Allentown, it kind of favored the 600s. It didn’t rubber up that much and Atlantic City can get like Allentown was. If it does, one of the 600s can win it again.”
Kemery, who races his family owned No. 69k TQ only during the winter Indoor Series, was in a position to win the Saturday Allentown race. After getting a flat tire early, he got back on track and decided to bide his time.
The race, in effect, came back to him.
When leader Ryan Flores’ (2018 Atlantic City winner) left-rear tire started losing air in the final laps, Flores slowed and Kemery closed. Flores prevailed by a car length, with his left-rear tire going completely flat in victory lane.
Kemery’s racing interests have come full circle. He started out as a 600cc micro sprint racer on dirt in 2009, but moved to the full size dirt Sportsman class four years later.
“The micros were getting very expensive to race on a weekly basis,” Kemery shared. “My father and I decided to build a Sportsman for Bridgeport but that got delayed a year.”
When Kemery did start racing full sized cars on a full sized track he proved to be a quick study, winning immediately, something he is still doing.
A victory on Saturday in Atlantic City would be the highlight of his racing career.