Before racing action at Kil-Kare Speedway on Friday night, the biggest question Amber Holley faced — well, besides how her new car would handle — was what to name the stuffed bear given to her by a fan.
A few hours later, the Tipp City driver had the answer to both questions.
“How about (the name) Checkers for winning?” Holley said after her second career compact victory. “We’ll go with Checkers.”
Holley gave the little brown bear, clad in a green shirt with Holley’s No. 88 painted on it, quite the ride Friday. She started on the outside pole and led every lap. She nearly lost it with five to go when the back end of her Ford Probe got loose.
“I was staring at the infield about halfway down the front stretch,” Holley said. “How I came out of that I have no idea. I never lost ground and managed to keep the lead. I was waiting for cars to come flying around me.”
Holley was joined in Kil-Kare’s victory lane by Beavercreek’s Brandon Oakley (late models), Beavercreek’s Jack Jones (modifieds) and Tipp City’s Jamie Sites (sport stocks).
Once she arrived there, Holley celebrated with Melody, the fan who gave her the bear.
“A special fan. This little girl has followed me about three or four years” she said. “I always talk to her dad and her whenever we see them. She bought me a bear to put in my car for good luck and even painted my number on it with glow in the dark paint so everybody can see it while I’m racing.”
Holley was thrilled for the added luck. She unloaded her new car Friday wishing it was her old one, which now serves as her back up. But her Charlie’s A-1 Auto Body, Quick Parts, Heath Farms and Chocolate Cafe sponsored ride filled in just fine.
“It’s kind of funny because I told dad I never want to look at this car again,” said Holley, who credited her dad Earl Isaacs and friend Kevin Flynn for getting it ready to race. “This is a brand new car. I think I’m so comfortable in my old car I want it back. I’ve never been happy with this car, but I think that’s changed. … It feels great. To come out second race this year, it’s a definite confidence boost that I needed right now.”
In the late models, Oakley challenged Robert Justus and Ryan Fleming until wrestling the lead from Fleming in a door-to-door battle.
“I just couldn’t get to Fleming’s quarter panel like I needed to, but once I had to make it work,” Oakley said of his No. 51 Chevy sponsored by McAfee Heating and Air, Indian Lake Raceway, Main Auto Parts and DK Bicyles. “I was able to pinch him down a little bit and take his line away. … We definitely have a lot of work to do. For the first night out to get a win like that, it’s awesome.”
In the modifieds, Jones — who returns to full-time racing after taking a two-year break to finish college and find a job — led from start to finish in his Horsepower Sales and Ham Signs sponsored No. 20. Jones wasn’t sure if he would run for points before Friday night.
“We haven’t really decided. Tonight’s going to help us decide,” Jones said with a smile. “It’s been fun so far. I just hope we can keep up the wins.”
In the sport stocks, Sites jumped out to a comfortable lead before holding off a charge from Jim Lewis Jr. Lewis was on Sites’ bumper in the closing laps but couldn’t get a look under Site’s No. 98 WhiteLine Designs Camaro as Sites held on.