With a rare weekend off from the Winston Cup world, NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader opted for the ARCA RE/MAX Series in order to fulfill his racing fix. Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Pontiac, held off valiant, late-race charges from...
With a rare weekend off from the Winston Cup world, NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader opted for the ARCA RE/MAX Series in order to fulfill his racing fix.
Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Pontiac, held off valiant, late-race charges from Frank Kimmel and Shawna Robinson to win the thrilling, inaugural PFG Lester ARCA 150 at the new 1.33-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway. Kimmel finished second in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, trailing Schrader at the final stripe by less than a second with Robinson, in the Aaron's Ford, less than a length away in third. Team RE/MAX driver Rick Carelli, making his career-first ARCA start, charged from 15th to fourth in the final running order while BSR outside polesitter Mike Swaim Jr., in the Dynatek Chevrolet, finished fifth. The victory, worth $18,695, was Schrader's eighth career RE/MAX Series win in his 22nd start. "It feels great," said Schrader in victory lane. "This car is an old Bud chassis we resurrected from my days running for Rick Hendrick. I really thought Frank Kimmel had the winning car today but he apparently developed a vibration there at the end, and Shawna Robinson had a great run too. I thought either of those two cars might pass us on that final restart, but I think Shawna was better on long runs, and just didn't have enough time to get there. I'll tell you, these guys in the ARCA RE/MAX Series are a bunch of fun to run with; it's never easy over here, and getting tougher all the time."
With just 13 laps remaining, Schrader's lead dwindled quickly after Robinson, having just out-dueled Carelli for second, closed within inches of the leader's rear bumper. But just as the Des Moines, Iowa native was about to make her move on the leader, the seventh and final caution came out for a turn-two wreck involving Stuart Kirby and Todd Bowsher. That set the stage for the final four-lap shootout to the finish, which would, in the end, work against Robinson who was unable to mount another charge in time. Instead, Robinson became more occupied trying to fend off Kimmel rather than chasing down the eventual winner. Kimmel eventually passed Robinson on the final lap and quickly closed in on Schrader, but ran out of time in his quest to become Nashville Superspeedway's first winner. Twelve cars finished on the lead lap aided, in part, by seven cautions; the most serious of which included the cars of Billy Venturini and Bowsher, both of whom, in separate incidents, crashed in turn two. Although both machines were destroyed, neither driver was injured. In all, a half-dozen drivers were taken to the infield care center resulting from accidents where they were all treated and released.
Penndel, Pennsylvania's Andy Belmont qualified the America Online/York Heating and Cooling/Racecakes Ford 10th in the field. Andy described the effort, "It was a decent qualifying effort. It gets harder every race for the smaller teams to do well with all the Winston Cup cars showing up for all of ARCA's high profile races. We started alongside Ken Shrader on the grid and were proud of the effort. The team has worked hard since Daytona, and they gave me a great car." Andy had a good race and finished ninth in the field. "We were a touch conservative in setting the car up and ran well all day. We would have brought home a completely clean car but late in the race Tim Steele pounded the left side trying to pass me. We had a good pit stop but got penalized when Jim Hunt slipped off the pit wall sign. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. Nashville is a tricky place, a treacherous race track. You could see that the day after our race when only 14 Busch cars were running at the end of their race."
After a two month layoff between Daytona and Nashville, the ARCA/ReMax Series has six races in six weeks. Andy and the AOL Team depart on Friday for Winchester Speedway in Salem, Indiana. That race is followed one week later by another Indiana race at Salem. Andy descibed Winchester and Salem on back to back weekends as, "...like going to Bristol two weeks in a row. It gets very expensive." They then race at Gateway in St. Louis, Kentucky Speedway, and Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte before getting a week off.
After two races in the 2001 season, Andy Belmont finds himself in third place in the ARCA/ReMax Series point standings behind defending champion Frank Kimmell and Shawna Robinson. Andy observed, "I am really pleased with our great start on the season, and hope that we can continue to challenge for the championship."