Local racing: Xenia’s Fleming off to fast start at Kil-Kare

Given his choice, late model driver Ryan Fleming prefers the inside lane at Kil-Kare Raceway. These days, though, the Xenia racer has been finding his groove no matter which line he picks.

The 22-year-old has lived up to his nickname – Flyin’ Ryan – through the first two races at Kil-Kare’s 3/8th-mile oval. He’s claimed both late model features and finished second in a modified feature.

The oval track re-opened after sitting idle in 2015 and 2016. It didn’t take long for Fleming to get reacquainted.

He took the outside lane in the season opener April 9 to get past Drew Charlson and nab his first win. Charlson and Fleming gave the crowd a last-lap thrill coming out of turn four when Charlson, in a final effort to get underneath, tapped Fleming from behind. Fleming’s orange No. 1 got a little loose, but he held on to beat Charlson by a bumper in a side-by-side finish.

Fleming added his second win April 23, ducking low underneath Charlson mid-race and holding off runner-up Cody Evans and Charlson.

“The preferred line is the bottom of the track. But there’s not very many places to get underneath somebody unless you knock them out of the way,” Fleming said. “Going to the outside is pretty much the clean way to get around someone.

“I’ve always loved the track. Even when Columbus was around it was by far the raciest track around between (Columbus, Kil-Kare and Shady Bowl Speedway). You can pass without having to knock somebody out of the way. I’ve always loved the actual track itself.”

Fleming, who ran at Columbus when Kil-Kare was closed, said he wasn’t sure if he’d run for points every Sunday afternoon. But now that he’s won the first two features, well, that decision might have been made for him.

“You win the first two I guess you gotta stay now,” Fleming said, laughing. “We try not to think about it. You make more mistakes worrying about it than just doing your thing.”

Fleming’s pit crew consists of his dad, Don, and him. Kenny White of Columbus owns the modified and also helps out on the late model.

“It’s pretty much me and my dad,” Fleming said. “It’s always me and him in the garage and 99 percent of the time it’s me and him at the track.”

Though they have some inside information on the track from their racing days (Don won the modified championship in 2001), the modified-D oval has thrown a few curves at competitors. Fleming said notes from previous seasons weren’t as useful since the track lost that rubber buildup from previous seasons.

“It was definitely what we call green,” he said. “It was all fresh. There wasn’t a whole lot of grip to it in the beginning. It’s coming back now that we’ve had a couple races on it.”

Kil-Kare returns to action Sunday with the Gem City Auto Racing sanctioned event. The late models, modifieds, sport stocks and compacts are all scheduled to compete. Practice starts at 11:30 a.m., qualifying is 1:30 p.m. and racing follows at 2:15.

On Friday, Kil-Kare Dragway has the Super Pro Double Up. The strip also hosts NHRA-sanctioned Summit ET Series bracket racing on Saturday, the first points race of the season.

Also Saturday, Shady Bowl hosts the Dayton Auto Racing Fan club on double points night. DARF members get in free with proper ID. Waynesfield Raceway Park hosts Modified May Madness and Edgewater Sports Park has its regular Summit racing schedule.

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