Kemenah Claims Atomic All Star Opener

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Chad Kemenah has his 2019 racing plans. (Todd Ridgeway photo)

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Utilizing patience to power himself to a 35th career All Star Circuit of Champions triumph, Chad Kemenah won the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 kicked off the evening program at Atomic Speedway by running the Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by C&R Racing night six feature that was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

It was Kemenah’s first victory since he won the season opener at Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park in February.

The driver of the Hunter Racing/DKW Transport/Seneca Energy/Bonnell’s Rod Shop/No. 10H earned the top spot right from the drop of the green flag, powering ahead of fellow front row starter, Justin Peck, as the pair raced into turn one for the first time. Although dominate from the start, Kemenah’s trip to victory lane was far from down an easy path. Kemenah was forced to survive six stoppages during the 30-lapper, two of which resulting in red flag conditions.

“My car owner, Rob Hunter, really messed up today; he took the night off and stayed home tonight,” Kemenah laughed. “This is really cool. It feels great to get this done. To say our Speedweek has been up and down is an understatement, but this team doesn’t give up. I felt like we got better after that first red. (Brian Kemenah) came out and made some adjustments that really helped out the car. I lost a race on the final lap here to Dave Blaney last year. I’d drive into the fence before I let that happen again.”

Although it was Kemenah in control, it was Ryan Smith and Paul McMahan who were putting on the show, battling almost side-by-side for the runner-up position for a multitude of laps. Continuing to substitute for Max McGhee, Smith secured the runner-up spot for the first time on lap six. McMahan, a two-time winner thus far in 2018 for car owner Tom Buch, powered into third for the first time on lap eight.

 

The duo exchanged positions four times between laps 16 and 26 beginning with McMahan getting by Smith after a restart on lap 16. Smith returned the favor on lap 21, but it would not last long, as McMahan was able to sneak back by the familiar No. 11 after a restart on lap 22. The caution on lap 22, waved for an upside-down Mitch Harble, was the final stop of the night. It followed a trio of yellow flags during the first half of the main event on laps five, ten, and fourteen, as well as a red flag on lap 18 for Parker Price-Miller who was battling inside the top-five. All drivers involved in all accidents walked away unharmed.

Once green-flag action returned following the lap 22 caution, McMahan and Smith’s battle resumed. By lap 26, Smith was all over McMahan again, ultimately powering back around the Nashville native via Elk Grove, Calif., to officially regain second on lap 26.

After gaining second for the final time, Smith set his aim for Kemenah, working as hard as he could to match Kemenah’s pace through the middle of the speedway.

A late charge would put Smith within a half-second of Kemenah, but time was out. Kemenah held on for the $5,000 payday, followed Ryan Smith, Paul McMahan, Jac Haudenschild, and Cap Henry.

The finish:

Chad Kemenah, Ryan Smith, Paul McMahan, Jac Haudenschild, Cap Henry, Tim Shaffer, Rico Abreu, Aaron Reutzel, Hunter Schuerenberg, Dave Blaney, Christopher Bell, T.J. Michael, Spencer Bayston, Cale Conley, Danny Smith, Justin Peck, Carson Macedo, D.J. Foos, Gerard McIntyre, Carl Bowser, Brandon Wimmer, Mitch Harble, Parker Price-Miller, Cole Duncan, Tyler Esh.