DuQuoin: Race report

In DuQuoin dirt thriller, Kimmel holds off Stewart. DUQUOIN IL (9-2-02) - With a rearview mirror full of Winston Cup regular Tony Stewart looming large, ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel held firm to the very end to win the thrilling ...

In DuQuoin dirt thriller, Kimmel holds off Stewart.

DUQUOIN IL (9-2-02) - With a rearview mirror full of Winston Cup regular Tony Stewart looming large, ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel held firm to the very end to win the thrilling Federated Auto Parts 100 Monday afternoon at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt-mile.

It was Kimmel's ninth RE/MAX Series win of the year and 42nd overall elevating the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver to third on the all-time ARCA win list ahead of Tim Steele and squarely behind ARCA legends Iggy Katona and Jack Bowsher.

"I didn't think we were going to be able to hold him off," said Kimmel in victory lane. "As the track changed, our lap speeds were beginning to fall off while Tony's were picking up. I just have to thank him for racing me so clean; he could have turned me a few times if he wanted to. I saw him fishing for the outside going down the backstretch on the last lap. I figured if he was brave enough to take it, he could have it. I just protected the bottom and hoped for the best, and it worked out. I'm so thankful for this Advance Auto Parts-Pork team; this crew is so awesome."

Stewart, in Andy Petree's Monaco Coach Chevrolet, had no problem catching Kimmel with 15 laps remaining but finding a way around the eventual winner was another story.

"I never had so much fun," said Stewart. "It's just great to come here without any pressure and not have to worry about points and just go racin'. We kept him (Kimmel) honest on that last lap, that's for sure; but I just want to thank Andy Petree and all the guys back at the shop for the opportunity. We don't get to race these 3,400-pound stock cars on dirt very often so it was just a thrill to be here. We broke the track record again, so that was great; we just need one more spot in the main event."

It was the second consecutive season that Stewart finished second to Kimmel in the DuQuoin ARCA dirt classic. The margin of victory between the two was about a length or .363 seconds.

Stewart started out the day with another Old Milwaukee Pole Award accompanied by a new track record of 106.440 mph breaking the pre-existing mark he had set last year. But while Kimmel only pitted once for a splash of fuel and an air pressure adjustment, Stewart had to steer for pit road twice during the 100-lap, 100-mile event. Stewart's first stop was routine however on his exit, the Rushville, Indiana driver collided with Ron Cox, which caved in Stewart's right-front fender. As a result, Stewart came back down pit road at his next available opportunity to get sheet metal pulled away from the right-front tire losing valuable track position in the process. Regardless, Stewart charged right back towards the front like a man on a mission disposing of the likes of Ken Schrader, Red Farmer, Jason Jarrett, Bill Baird and Joe Cooksey along the way. Stewart, with the huge crowd on its feet, quickly reeled in Kimmel with seemingly plenty of time to make his move. But while Stewart made several attempts, Kimmel fought off each charge one by one as often as necessary to earn the hard-fought victory.

Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Pontiac, also had to pit twice to clear mud away from the front grill in an effort to keep his car from overheating. Schrader eventually maneuvered his way back to third but ran out of time in his quest to catch the front-runners. The ageless Farmer thrilled the audience with a respectable fourth place finish after qualifying third in an ML Motorsports Pontiac while local Centralia, Illinois favorite Joe Cooksey, who started 17th, finished a solid fifth in his own Fuelvend.com Chevrolet.

In all, there were 9 cautions for a variety of spins and accidents throughout the event including one for Baird and Norm Benning, both of whom were running in the top-ten at the time. Baird's car got sideways off turn four and spun directly into the path of Benning who, with nowhere to go, slammed hard into the side of Baird's machine. Both cars were heavily damaged although neither driver was injured.

Stewart led the first 22 laps while outside polesitter Doug Keller led the next 11 after Stewart pitted. However, Kimmel, having pitted early on, quickly raced his way to the front and took over the lead on lap 34 when Keller finally came down pit road for service. All the while pressed, Kimmel led the remaining 72 laps.

Hesston, Pennsylvania driver Tom Eriksen charged hard from the 35th starting position to finish seventh in his own Eriksen Water Well Drilling Chevrolet with Jarrett trailing in eighth in the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac. Kevin Belmont, in James Hylton's Ford Taurus, raced from the 26th starting position to finish 9th with 17-year-old rookie Shelby Howard, in the Mack Trucks Chevrolet, following in tenth. 16-year-old Justin Allgaier impressed with a solid 11th place in only his second RE/MAX Series start while Birmingham, Alabama driver Tim Burrell picked the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for his 12th place finish after starting 31st.

In addition to the first-place prize money, Kimmel also picked up the Loctite Halfway Leader award. Benning was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award.

-arca-

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Series ARCA
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Frank Kimmel , Kevin Belmont , Tim Steele , Ron Cox , Andy Petree , James Hylton , Norm Benning , Doug Keller , Justin Allgaier , Bill Baird , Red Farmer