In DuQuoin ARCA Thriller, Kimmel Holds Off Stewart DUQUOIN IL -- by Don Radebaugh -- With a rearview mirror full of Winston Cup veteran and ARCA teammate Tony Stewart, two-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel kept his cool just long ...
In DuQuoin ARCA Thriller, Kimmel Holds Off Stewart
DUQUOIN IL -- by Don Radebaugh -- With a rearview mirror full of Winston Cup veteran and ARCA teammate Tony Stewart, two-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel kept his cool just long enough to win the thrilling Federated Auto Parts Southern Illinois 100 Monday afternoon at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt-mile.
"What an incredible day," said Kimmel in victory lane. "I was driving it as hard as I could there at the end; I couldn't give it anymore. But what a thrill to win here at DuQuoin, and to beat Tony Stewart and all the rest. The Advance Auto Parts-Pork Chevy was good all day but Tony was a little faster there at the end; I'm just glad he raced me clean. But what a show for the fans."
And with an estimated 10,000 fans on their feet, Stewart made one final charge at Kimmel off turn four as the leaders raced toward the checkered flag falling short by a half-length at the final stripe.
"I had so much fun out there today," said Stewart after the race. "We just want to thank the car owner Larry Clement for the opportunity, and all the guys from Frank's (Kimmel) crew who helped put this whole thing together. Now I can see why those guys (Kimmel's) win so many races over here, and why they're champions. I needed another pit stop to make the car just a little better. Anyway, if it works out, we'd sure like to come back next year and try it again."
Stewart, who won the Old Milwaukee Pole Award with a new one-lap track record, pitted twice during the 100-mile race in an effort to cure a tight car while Kimmel, who starting 16th, pitted just once. 1999 series champion Bill Baird, making his first start of the year, finished a solid third in his own Saturn Machine Chevy with eight-time ARCA RE/MAX Series winner Ken Schrader trailing in fourth in his Federated Auto Parts Pontiac. Local Centralia, Illinois favorite Joe Cooksey gave the home town fans plenty to cheer about with a well-deserved fifth place finish after starting 11th in his Fuelvend.com Chevy.
At the onset, outside polesitter Doug Keller beat Stewart into turn one and led the first lap before Stewart overhauled Keller for the lead on the second lap. Stewart led through lap 18 but gave it up to Jason Jarrett in favor of service on pit road. Jarrett held the lead for four laps before Kimmel, who also pitted along with Stewart, raced his way into the lead. Kimmel's lead was short-lived however when Stewart charged back into the top-spot to lead laps 27 through 39 before giving it back to Kimmel while Stewart made his second pit stop for adjustments. That put Kimmel, who led a total of 65 laps, in command for good while Stewart had to work his way back through the pack.
In all, nine cautions slowed the event for 37 laps for a variety incidents including one for veteran Bob Strait who made heavy contact with the turn four wall. Strait, who had been running in the top-five all afternoon, was not injured however his Dauphin Tech Chevy received considerable damage and was through for the day.
Hesston, Pennsylvania driver Tom Eriksen recorded his career-best finish in sixth over Andy Belmont who steered his AOL-Racecakes Ford to the checkered flag in seventh. Jarrett, making his second career start on dirt, finished eighth in the Biomet-Damon RV Chevy ahead of Winston Cup team owner Andy Petree who finished ninth in his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series start. In addition, it was Petree's first ever attempt on dirt. Mooresville, North Carolina driver Brent Glastetter, in only his second RE/MAX Series start, finished a respectable tenth.
CURRENT POINTS: 1) Frank Kimmel 5215; 2) Jason Jarrett 4175; 3) Andy Belmont 4070; 4) Tim Steele 3610; 5) Ron Cox 3585; 6) Norm Benning 3380; 7) Chuck Weber 3375; 8) Donny Morelock 3315; 9) Todd Bowsher 3295; 10) Robert Burroughs 2245.