Drivers gear up for memorial race at Milwaukee Mile

Jimmie is out. But Kenny's in. Rusty is getting some pressure from home, and Denny's about to get hit up for a favor.

The ASA Midwest Tour race at the Milwaukee Mile has been overshadowed lately by news about the IndyCar race at the track, but it, too, is barely three months away.

Work on the event continues, not the least of which is assembling a field that will make the Howie Lettow Memorial a success befitting the Midwest racing legend after whom the June 12 event is named.

Lettow lived in Watertown, Wis., and made his name on the old ASA national tour, becoming one of the most respected crew chiefs in short-track stock-car racing. He died of cancer in August 2010 at age 62.

David Stremme, one of the many drivers who benefited from Lettow's mentoring, has worked with ASA Midwest president Steve Einhaus on the project. Stremme also has worked with his Sprint Cup team, Inception Motorsports, on building a late model, and he'll soon be working on some of his friends to race.

"There's other people that have run in the ASA series . . . a lot of guys are getting a hold of me," Stremme said. "I've got another car. I don't know, maybe I can get Denny (Hamlin) or somebody else to get in there from the Cup garage to get in there and go up and have some fun."

Hamlin won the 2007 Nationwide Series race in a car started by Aric Almirola.

"It's going to be interesting how much promotion they get," Stremme said. "Milwaukee has strong, strong short-track racing fans. Hopefully, they'll draw a good fan base. I think they'll have a really good show up there."

Another of Lettow's pupils, Tony Raines, is committed, Einhaus said, as are fellow NASCAR drivers David Ragan and Kenny Wallace.

Tickets will go on sale next week. They'll be $20 in advance and $30 at the gate, there'll be a meet-and-greet VIP package for $125 and camping will be available on-site.

The biggest potential draw, five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, was interested but apologized for not being able to participate.

"We'll see how things develop for years to come," said Johnson, who was driving Lettow's cars when Jeff Gordon took notice.

ESPN analyst and retired Cup champion Rusty Wallace said he's getting some heat to slip on a helmet one more time to compete at one of his all-time favorite tracks. At the very least, Wallace said, he intends to field a "bad-ass hotrod" for his son Steve.

"He's trying to talk me into racing that thing at Milwaukee," said Rusty Wallace, who competed at the track with USAC (four wins), ASA (one win) and NASCAR.

"I'm like, I don't know about that, Steven. I told people I'm out. To go back in might look a little goofy, you know, but . . . the only way I'd do it is if I go up there and test and feel good about it and all that."

Well, there are three months to get ready.

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