Kenny Carroll called his 2017 season at Lucas Oil Speedway the epitome of the good news/bad news storyline.
“I was happy with the points thing,” Carroll said of his runner-up finish to Toby Ott in the Big O Tires Street Stocks track championship chase. “But I sure would have liked to have had a few wins.”
The gregarious Carroll, a veteran Street Stocks driver from Camdenton who won Lucas Oil Speedway championships in 2009 and 2015, finished 74 points behind Ott. Carroll posted top fives in 11 of the 13 features this year, but never could bust into the win column.
In retrospect, Carroll said he probably never quite got the Josh Franklin Motorsports Chevrolet dialed in the way he needed. The car was new late in the 2016 season and perhaps he hung onto old notes that had worked before for a bit too long.
“Sometimes I think you should just throw those away and start over,” Carroll said. “That’s probably what we should have done. But it’s hard to erase the past.
“But Toby is a great guy and for him to come out never winning (a feature) before to winning five this year, I was tickled for him to win the championship. And for the health of the (division) for him to do it with a 604 (crate motor) that does nothing but help.”
While Carroll failed to win a race on the Lucas dirt, he did continue his winning streak following the season on the concrete runway during the Lake of the Ozarks Air Show at Camdenton Regional Airport. For the third straight year, Carroll raced an airplane and won.
On the 4,000-foot straightaway, Carroll’s car peaked at 156 miles per hour – topping the 146 he ran in 2016.
“That car could run up to 200 (mph) in just a minute, but it takes longer to stop a 3,000-pound car than you’d think,” Carroll said, noting a chain-link fence and 50-foot drop at the end of the runway. Carroll did get it stopped, but with little room to spare at the end “so 156 is about the fastest it can go with race brakes and no parachute. It’s still a stock car and not a drag car.”
Sponsors on the car, in addition to his own Kenny Carroll Excavating, include Josh Franklin Motorsports, Ray’s Lake Service, Whitetail Trophy Hunt, Keith Denny Concrete, Big Surf Waterpark, Marine Service Company, Lake Area Air Shows, Alamo Arms, Lucas Oil Products and Ruble Race Engines. Crew members include Josh and Mitchell Franklin and James Ray.
Another thrill in 2017 for Carroll came outside the race car. He watched his 14-year-old son, J.T. Carroll, make his racing debut in a handful of Pure Stock races at Lebanon Midway Speedway.
“Hopefully we’ll get a few more races under his belt next year and then we can talk about Street Stock racing for him as well,” Kenny Carroll said, adding that racing seemed to serve as a motivator academically for the eighth-grader.
“We finally found something that he enjoys and suddenly, he’s getting As and Bs in school,” Carroll said. “So that’s been a good thing.”
Meanwhile, 16-year-old daughter Shelby is a standout student at Camdenton High School where she is excelling in the drama club. “She also keeps my car clean on race nights and does my t-shirt sales.”
“I also have to mention my wife, Naia. She keeps my head in the game, keeps me fed and tells me when I need to be put in my place.”