JOLIET IL (9-6-03) - Frank Kimmel, in search of yet another ARCA RE/MAX Series milestone, didn't have to look very far. The four-time series champion and current point leader sailed underneath veteran Greg Sacks with just over 10 laps remaining and never looked back to win the ReadyHosting.com 200 Saturday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway. The win represented Kimmel's 50th career series victory and first ever at the Joliet, Illinois 1.5-mile superspeedway.
"First of all, we want to dedicate today's win in memory of Bob Dotter," said Kimmel. "He was a true champion; he sure taught me a lot. We're going to miss him. The Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford was pretty much on the mark all day. We were a little free off the corners so we made some slight air pressure adjustments -- the car just got better and better. But we were a little concerned about our fuel pressure. The fuel gauge kept fluctuating when the tank would get lower. For some reason we were having some fuel pick-up problems; we're not sure why. That's why we topped off there with 30 to go or so."
Kimmel, who had to work his way through the pack more than once, was fifth with 28 laps remaining when the caution flag flew for a spin. Kimmel, concerned about fuel pressure, was the only driver among the 11 lead-lap cars who came down pit road for service. Kimmel topped off the fuel, and with nothing to lose, changed all four tires before re-entering the race, the last car on the lead lap. When racing resumed, Kimmel, on fresher tires, steadily climbed towards the front. Within 13 laps, Kimmel had worked his way into second and quickly set his sights on Sacks. Sacks, making his third career RE/MAX Series start, managed to hold off the charge for three circuits before Kimmel drove underneath for the lead down the backstretch with 12 laps remaining. From there, Kimmel powered away from the pack winning by nearly two seconds over Sacks who finished second in the Fresh Seafood From Florida Dodge. Sacks had recovered from an unscheduled pitstop early on that put the Mattituck, New York driver down one lap. Yet, Sacks would eventually get his lap back and challenge for the win.
Local favorites Bob Strait and Brent Sherman, who gave the hometown fans plenty to cheer about, finished third and fourth respectively with former NASCAR All-Pro champion Wayne Anderson trailing in fifth, a career-best for the Wildwood, Florida driver.
In addition to some great side-by-side racing throughout the 134-lap, 200-mile race, there were also six cautions that slowed the field for 46 laps. One of those cautions was for Linden, Pennsylvania driver Dale Schweikart who made contact with the turn four wall after spinning. Schweikart was transported, conscious and alert, to St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, Illinois for further evaluation. AJ Henriksen, who led 30 laps, cut down a right-front tire and made heavy contact with the turn one wall shortly thereafter. Henriksen was not injured and received the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award as a result.
Kimmel, who also won the Old Milwaukee Pole, led the most with 71 laps-led and also picked up the National Pork Board Pole-Win bonus for winning from the pole. Sacks led 31 laps with Sherman and Strait each leading one.
Nashville, Tennessee driver Darryl Sage finished sixth in the Murtco Chevrolet with Chelsea, Michigan driver Bill Eversole trailing in seventh in the Think Pink Energy Drink Chevrolet. Eversole, who started 33rd, also picked up the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie of the Race honors. Mark Gibson finished eighth in the Williams Brothers Lumber Chevrolet in front of Christi Passmore who finished ninth in the GAP Roofing-Royal Trading Ford, the last car on the lead lap. Clint Vahsholtz, in his own Vahsholtz Automotive Ford, finished 10th.
Shelby Howard was in contention for the win until the Greenwood, Indiana driver made contact with the turn one wall after cutting down a right-front tire. The crew worked overtime to get Howard's machine as race-ready as could be and got Howard back out for a time. As a result, Howard's Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge crew won the Gladiator GarageWorks of the Race award.
CURRENT TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS AFTER CHICAGOLAND (9-6-03): 1. Frank Kimmel 4910; 2. Jason Jarrett 4060; 3. Mark Gibson 3990; 4. Brent Sherman 3845; 5. Billy Venturini 3810; 6. Shelby Howard 3785; 7. Bill Eversole 3495; 8. Todd Bowsher 3480; 9. Christi Passmore 3420; 10. Ron Cox 3360.