Gibson glides to victory at Atlanta. HAMPTON GA (3-8-03), by Don Radebaugh -- Winder, Georgia veteran Mark Gibson capitalized on the late-race misfortunes of Frank Kimmel to win the Atlanta ARCA 400 Saturday afternoon at Atlanta Motor ...
Gibson glides to victory at Atlanta.
HAMPTON GA (3-8-03), by Don Radebaugh -- Winder, Georgia veteran Mark Gibson capitalized on the late-race misfortunes of Frank Kimmel to win the Atlanta ARCA 400 Saturday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gibson, in his own Williams Brothers Lumber Chevrolet, cruised around Kimmel's ailing machine with just over 10 laps remaining to score his fourth career ARCA RE/MAX Series victory and first-ever at the 1.54-mile superspeedway.
"My brother Tony (Gibson, crew chief for Steve Park's Winston Cup car) called me on his cell phone," said Gibson in victory lane. "He had worked with us in the last practice session. He told us to change three springs, the bite in the car and the gear. We did it, and it worked. We've never done anything like that before; we've never raced something we didn't try. Once I got by Shelby (Howard), the 67 (Jason Jarrett) had trouble; the 46 (Kimmel) had trouble, and I said, 'man, this is a good day. This is our hometown track, so it's really special to win here; it's nice to win anywhere."
The win was an especially popular one for the likeable, local Georgian who led the final 13 laps while his hometown fans cheered him on.
Kimmel, who dominated the race most of the way with 145 laps-led of 162 total, appeared to be well on his way to another victory before his Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford began to slow inside of 20 laps from the finish. "We dropped two cylinders there at the end," said Kimmel. "But if I had to lose this race, I can't think of another guy (Gibson) I'd rather see win. He'd been after Atlanta for a long time; he was due, and they did a great job. We still finished fifth, so all things considered, our day wasn't so bad."
Shelby Howard, in the Celadon Trucking-Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge, finished second just over two seconds behind Gibson. It was Howard's career-best superspeedway finish. "We were running him (Gibson) down fast but we just put the wrong set of tires on at the end of the race. But Mark (Gibson) did a great job today; he deserved it."
Jason Jarrett, in the Damon RV-Biomet Chevrolet, beat Kimmel out of the pits in the last round of pit stops and led four laps before falling back to third in the final running order. "I knew I probably wouldn't be able to hold Frank off, but I was going to drive him down into the corners as hard as I could and see how close I could take it," said Jarrett. "We just got too tight at the end."
Brent Sherman, who started 30th in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford, passed Kimmel in the closing laps to finish a career-best fourth while Kimmel nursed his machine to the finish in fifth.
With qualifying rained out the day before, the field lined up by last year's car owner points putting defending champion Kimmel on the pole for the start. Kimmel immediately jumped out into the lead and began pulling away while Chase Montgomery, Howard and Gibson raced for position behind. Then the first of 5 caution flags appeared on lap five for a multi-car wreck off turn four triggered when Doug Stevens made contact with Vern Slagh racing through the corner. The incident also collected Bob Strait, Norm Benning and Dan Shaver. There were no injuries however all five machines were through for the day.
When racing resumed, three-time Atlanta winner Tim Steele, who started 31st, was soon running fifth and quickly tracking down the leaders including Kimmel. However, Steele's machine developed electrical troubles early on and fell off the pace. The Coopersville, Michigan driver would later receive the Landrum Springs Hard Luck award as a consolation after retiring from competition well short of the finish.
As the race progressed, Kimmel appeared to be on cruise control steadily distancing himself from the other front-runners before his engine went sour.
Tandy Marlin, a first cousin to Winston Cup driver Sterling Marlin, delivered a solid sixth place finish in his career-first RE/MAX Series start with 18-year-old Spartanburg, South Carolina driver Jeremy Clements trailing in seventh in the Broadway Motor Company Chevrolet. Soddy Daisy, Tennessee veteran Ron Cox steered Wayne Hixson's Gladiator GarageWorks Chevrolet to the finish in eighth, the last car on the lead lap. Billy Venturini, in the Sports Authority Chevrolet, finished ninth while Chelsea, Michigan rookie Bill Eversole raced Brad Kemp's Chevrolet from the 40th starting position to 10th in the final running order. Eversole's solid effort earned the former dirt late model driver the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie of the Race award and the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions in the race.
The next action for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be under the lights April 11th at Nashville Superspeedway where live coverage on SPEED Channel begins at 9 pm eastern.
CURRENT ARCA RE/MAX SERIES TOP-10 POINTS AFTER ATLANTA:
1) Billy Venturini 420
1) Frank Kimmel 420
3) Mark Gibson 415
4) Brent Sherman 375
5) Ron Cox 360
5) Chase Montgomery 360
7) Jason Jarrett 355
8) Bill Eversole 335
9) Andy Hillenburg 275
10) Shelby Howard 265
10) Jeremy Clements 265