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Kelsey Settles wins at All-American Soap Box Derby

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Kelsey Settles thought she was done with All-American Soap Box Derby in 2012. Luckily, her cousins talked her into giving it one more try.

The 18-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, won the Rally Masters Division on Saturday during the 78th annual competition at Derby Downs.

“I felt like I should race again, I was itching to get back in the car, and here I am,” Settles said. “They (cousins Aaron and Jacob Leonard) told me to give it one more try and I’m glad I did. It’s indescribable.”

Kelsey, who will be going to Western Kentucky University and major in nursing next month, was racing in a car that honored late aunt Connie Leonard, who died from breast cancer in 2012. The car, which won best paint job in 2012, had a large pink bow along with the motto “Fight Like a Girl.”

“We were here at the race in 2010 when Connie found out she had breast cancer,” said Kelsey’s father, Chris Settles. “Racing has always been tied to her fight with cancer. She told us all not to quit.”

Aaron and Jacob Leonard had a “Racing for my Mom” decal on their cars. Aaron, 14, competed in Local Masters and Jacob, 11, took part in Rally Stock.

“I was skeptical because I thought we were finished but when she sets her mind to it I jump behind her,” said Kelsey’s mom, Sany Settles, about coming back to race this year. “She wanted to give it one more shot to win it and I’m glad she did.

“It’s bittersweet. She went out with a bang.”

Settles was one of three champions from Kentucky, marking the first time anyone from the state had won. Fifteen-year-old Tyler Peterson of Bowling Green was the champion in Rally Super Stock, and 11-year-old Lukas A. Ramey of Hanson claimed victory in Rally Stock.

Arlington, Massachusetts, has a champion in Local Masters for the second straight year as 16-year-old Bailey Martin won. Other Local champions were Rochester West, New York’s, Karlye Murphy in Super Stock and Annabelle Herron of Roanoke, Virginia, in Stock. Both are 10 years old.

A field of 418 racers from around the United States and representing countries as far away as Japan and New Zealand competed in hot and windy conditions.

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