OCALA, Fla. — Six-time and defending Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 titlist Chad Kemenah kicked off his championship defense in a big way by winning Thursday night’s season opener at Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park.
Kemenah collected the victory, which carried a $5,000 payday, by charging forward from 17th on the grid in a caution-laden 30-lap event. The triumph was his first-ever in the Sunshine State.
The driver of the No. 10H DKW Transport/Bonnell’s Rod Shop-backed entry for Hunter Racing withstood a competitive field and 10 cautions — two of which forced open red flags for refueling — for his 34th-career All Stars win.
“We were really consistent the last two years, so I hope this is a sign, because I need to win more,” said Kemenah. “Starting that far back and working to the front says a lot about our efforts in the winter time. My brother, his wife, and Luke are always working in the shop. Rob and Rita Hunter just give us what we need to compete and compete competitively, anywhere we go. That’s all we can ask for.”
By the midpoint of the 30-lap program, Kemenah was racing within the top-five, pressuring those battling on the podium in front of him as he worked past Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart, and race-long leader Parker Price-Miller.
A caution on lap 20 would give Kemenah another prime opportunity to advance, ultimately driving by Blaney and Stewart on the ensuing restart by using the very bottom of the speedway.
Two circuits later, Kemenah was pressuring Price-Miller for the top spot. Despite leading over half of the main event, and surviving six cautions during the first 20 circuits — including three consecutive that plagued the initial start — Price-Miller’s efforts soon wore out, surrendering the point to Kemenah at the exit of turn four on lap 22.
“When my brother came out during the [first open] red, he asked me what I thought,” Kemenah said. “I told him I felt good. I just needed to bide my time because there were cars everywhere. The race track was beautiful. The mechanic did his job, and all I had to do was drive it.”
Even with four more cautions halting his momentum — a pair on lap 23 and another pair on lap 27 — Kemenah was invincible down the stretch, stretching his final margin of victory to 3.067 seconds despite a four lap dash to the end.
“I’m not sure anyone was going to have anything for those guys,” admitted Stewart of Kemenah. “We just needed things to go green for a little while longer. I’m proud of my guys. I think this team has gained a lot over the winter. I feel really good about how things got started.”
“This really says what my team is about,” added Kemenah of his drive to the win and hard charger honors. “We never quit.”
RESULTS: Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions; Bubba Raceway Park; Feb. 1, 2018
A-Main (30 laps): 1. 10H-Chad Kemenah ; 2. 14-Tony Stewart ; 3. 70-Dave Blaney ; 4. 4-Parker Price-Miller ; 5. 21-Carson Short ; 6. 2C-Wayne Johnson ; 7. 27-Greg Hodnett ; 8. 95-Hunter Mackison ; 9. 17S-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 10. 17-Caleb Helms ; 11. M1-Mark Smith ; 12. 24-Rico Abreu ; 13. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 14. 13-Paul McMahan ; 15. 44-Trey Starks ; 16. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 17. 14T-Tyler Clem ; 18. 5M-Max Stambaugh ; 19. 18-Ian Madsen ; 20. 51-John Garvin ; 21. 14G-Coleman Gulick ; 22. 1080-Jordan Mackison ; 23. 49X-Tim Shaffer ; 24. 7K-Cale Conley 
Lap Leaders: Price-Miller (1-21); Kemenah (22-30).
CREDIT: All Star Communications