MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

June 28, 2013

Keeping car in shape has driver maintaining status quo

It took Ken Hughey three seasons of racing to win a Pure Stock points championship, that coming last season at Thunderbird Speedway.

This season, he’s racing at Outlaw Motorsports Park and has picked up where he left off. The 17 1/2-veteran of the Muskogee Police Department is the only driver in any of the seven classes at the Oktaha race track to crack the 1,000-point barrier and has the largest lead in any class.

“It’s a lot of hard work, and taking care of the car every week,” Hughey said about his success in 2013.

Hughey finished third in last Saturday’s Pure Stock feature which pushed his advantage over Bobby Hunter of Haileyville to 274 points (1,018-744). It was his eighth top-5 finish in a feature this year and kept his confidence at a high level.

“I started with the same car I finished with, same motor and everything,” Hughey said. “So, I had expectations of running up front, hoping to win a bunch.”

When the season began, Hughey was not intent on racing the entire season. But after winning the first two features of the year, the drive to capture another points title kept him on the track.

Since Hughey has decided to give the season a full ride, he’s noticed the competition has gotten heavier.

“There have been a lot of new people come out to Outlaw that weren’t at Thunderbird last year,” Hughey said. “There have been times where we’ve had to go up against 20 cars. There’s this one driver Ryan Waltman (of Fort Gibson), he’s got a fast car. I’ve had to be on top of my game to get back in the winner’s circle.”

Seven drivers are between Hughey and Waltman, who is ninth in the standings.

For those familiar with the “five-oh” car barreling through the field, 2013 hasn’t been an easy trip.

“There have been times where I’ve had to come from the back of the pack,” Hughey said. “Last Saturday, I got in a wreck and had to start 13th or 14th and ended up third. We work on the car every week and make sure it’s set up.”

Since Hughey is off from his day job on Friday through Sunday, that gives him three days off to get ready for racing. And while Outlaw is the only track he drives at, that gives him the day before the race to set the car up and the day after to make any repairs.

“Mike Holybee and I usually go work on the car on Sunday afternoons,” Hughey said. “He helps me get everything ready, straighten out the fenders and such. Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.”

His fender benders are in most part due to the make-up of the track.

“Thunderbird is a longer and wider track,” Hughey said. “Outlaw is narrower and brings closer quarters into it.”

Hughey didn’t plan on racing the full schedule this season. But his start changed those plans.

“Since winning the first two races and grabbing the points lead, I thought ‘I might as well go for it,’” he said. “It would be kind of nice to have a championship at Thunderbird and Outlaw.”

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