Flat Rock, MI, 5-27-00 -- by Don Radebaugh -- Still riding high from his victory the night before at Kil-Kare, Frank Kimmel kept the glory ride alive with a victory in the Jasper Engines & Transmissions 150 presented by Kmart Saturday night on...
Flat Rock, MI, 5-27-00 -- by Don Radebaugh -- Still riding high from his victory the night before at Kil-Kare, Frank Kimmel kept the glory ride alive with a victory in the Jasper Engines & Transmissions 150 presented by Kmart Saturday night on the tight quarter mile Flat Rock Speedway.
Kimmel, in Larry Clement's Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevrolet, held off last-lap charges from Brian Ross and Eric Smith to win his 19th career ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series victory. Ross kept Smith at bay for second while Bobby Dotter trailed in fourth, the last car on the lead lap.
Kimmel dominated the final two-thirds of the event with as much as a half-lap lead until the final caution period, one of six throughout the race, bunched up the field setting up a two-lap, green-white-checker finish that kept the '98 ARCA champion busier than expected. "This Advance Auto Parts Chevy was perfect," said Kimmel in victory lane. "It had to be with Brian (Ross) on my tail there at the end. I couldn't drive away from him and we were stacked up a lot tighter than we wanted to be. But Brian Ross is a gentleman racer and he showed it today. He was going after his first win and he could have been a lot more aggressive but he showed a lot of poise and composure out there. The way this weekend started, with our engine troubles and all, it couldn't have had a better ending. It's just a testament to this crew. They really are the best, the most dedicated, the most determined, and when you're all those things, great things are going to happened and fortunately for us, it happened again today."
Kimmel's comfortable advantage went away on the 144th circuit of the scheduled 150-lap race when veterans' Bobby Gerhart and Mark Gibson locked horns racing for position in turn two bringing out the caution. The contact shoved Gibson's machine directly into the path of Kmart Ford Taurus driver Shawna Robinson, making her first Flat Rock appearance, who was running seventh at the time. The incident ended the day for Gibson and Robinson while Gerhart was able to continue. When the green flag finally appeared signaling the two-lap dash to the checkers, Kimmel had three hopeful winners in his mirror all bent on going to victory lane. With all four machines inches apart, Ross, who started from the pole, peaked high and low on Kimmel while Smith and Dotter maneuvered for position. But with Kimmel holding the perfect bottom line, contact may have been the only victory option for Ross who chose against it, fell in line and trailed Kimmel under the checkered flag by a half-length.
Andy Belmont steered his America Online Ford home in fifth one lap down while Kirk Shelmerdine, also making his first Flat Rock start, finished sixth ahead of Mopar Performance Dodge driver Roger Blackstock in seventh. Curt Piercy finished eighth in his GA Rich & Sons Mechanical Chevrolet with current point leader Bob Strait in the Dauphin Tech Chevrolet trailing in ninth. Richard Hampton, aboard his own Big O Tires-Texaco Chevrolet, raced from the 26th starting position to finish 10th earning the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions.
Kimmel, who started the weekend out 10th in points, skyrocketed to third in the series standings behind Strait and Ross. Additionally, Kimmel received the Auto Value Halfway Leader Award as well as the Quarter Master Comin' Thru in the Clutch honors and the Thermo-Tec Durable Driver Award. Ross won the Talladega Pole Award, his second of the season, and was the Prestone ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie.
Next events for the versatile ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will be the Flagstar 200 at Michigan Speedway on June 10th before the series heads to Pocono Int'l Raceway for the Pocono ARCA 200 on June 17.
Current Points: Bob Strait 1435, Brian Ross 1390, Frank Kimmel 1340, Andy Belmont 1300, Bobby Gerhart 1255, Shawna Robinson 1230, Norm Benning 1205, Kirk Shelmerdine 1200, Mark Gibson 1180, Cavin Councilor 1060.