By Joe Lombardi
For the Killeen Daily Herald
Right now, Kenny Stone is rocking the IMCA Modified class at Texas Thunder Speedway.
The tall, soft-spoken driver from Killeen is undefeated on the track in 2010, winning every modified feature race the track has put on, five to be exact, but only four count, after Saturday's disqualification over an illegal tachometer.
Even so, that's some driving, especially when you look at the level of competition he faces each week. Athletes like Benji Kirkpatrick, Cham Savage, Jr., former national champion P.J. Egbert and some 20-odd others have tried hard but haven't been able to push Stone, 30, off the Winner's Circle.
He ran last season at Heart of Texas Speedway in Waco and didn't have this kind of success, so what's the difference?
"The car," Stone said. "Same motor (383 Chevrolet, 550-hp), same drivetrain ... it's a brand new Hoffman H-3 (chassis). The car's amazing. It pretty much drives itself."
"Stoney's" driving talent and experience have a lot to do with it, too.
He's been racing for 25 years, starting off in quarter midgets, which are similar to go karts and are basically mini sprint cars. That's how many of today's top drivers got into the game, Stone said, mentioning A.J. Foyt, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and others who cut their racing teeth in the class.
Like most, if not all, the men and women who compete at Texas Thunder, the four-time winner has a day job away from the race shop. He runs Bell County Electrical Supply in Killeen and has to find time to work on his car after business hours. Sometimes that can put a strain on family
relationships, as seen on the History Channel's "Madhouse" reality series about some NASCAR Modified teams.
That's not the case around the Stone hacienda, though.
"My family is very supportive," said Stone. "My wife (Shelley) doesn't get too antsy when I drive, but my mom (Mickie Stone) yells and squeals and beats on whoever's sitting next to her."
Stone also credits his eight-week-old daughter Tara and dad Bob for being inspirational in his career and thanked his sponsors for their faith in him.
"We're sponsored by McGuire Truck and Auto, Fat Boy's Barbecue, Kempner Iron and Metal, and I have several friends that help me ... Pat McGuire, Mitch Tierney and David Smith Jr. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all their help."
After each win, Stone crosses the track and gives his trophy to a young fan. This week, a 2-year-old named Hunter took home quite a souvenir. That's class.
So, going into week six of the Texas Thunder Speedway season, the question remains:
"Is anybody going to beat that guy?"
Kenny Stone knows he's carrying a big bull's-eye on his rear bumper, but, so far, no one's been able to hit it.