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Motorcycle legend Ricky Carmichael takes next step in NASCAR apprenticeship

October 1, 2010 |  5:42 pm

Legendary off-road motorcycle racer Ricky Carmichael slowly but steadily keeps working his way up NASCAR's ladder after making the switch to stock cars.

The 30-year-old Floridian, widely viewed as the best motocross and supercross rider ever with a remarkable 15 championships, has been toiling in stock-car racing's lower ranks since 2007. Carmichael

But on Saturday, Carmichael will move up a notch by making his first start in the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's equivalent of baseball's triple-A minor leagues, at the series' race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval.

"I know I won't be out there setting the world on fire, but I'm going to be using this opportunity to gain some seat time, log some laps and really just get some good experience in the car," he said.

Carmichael, driving the No. 10 Toyota for Turner Motorsports, had his first practice Friday at Kansas and was 26th fastest of 47 cars at 163.552 mph. But in the second practice, Carmichael's top speed jumped to 167.832 mph, or ninth on the chart.

Carmichael also is scheduled to drive in the last two Nationwide races this season at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami.

He's otherwise been cutting his teeth in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series,where Carmichael is 12th in the standings with two top-five and six top-10 finishes in 20 races this season. He led his first lap in the series last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and he's previously raced trucks at Kansas.

"He's shown a great deal of improvement this year," team owner Steve Turner said, adding that Carmichael next year would again compete full-time in the truck series while also driving in about seven Nationwide races.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Ricky Carmichael during qualifying Aug. 7 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn. Credit: Jason Smith / Getty Images