Illinois: Frank Kimmel race report

Kimmel Crosses Milestone at Springfield but a Blistered Tire Relegates Him to Ninth Place Finish SPRINGFIELD, IL (August 24, 2009) -- Frank Kimmel's ease on dirt was apparent during the running of the Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois ...

Kimmel Crosses Milestone at Springfield but a Blistered Tire Relegates Him to Ninth Place Finish

SPRINGFIELD, IL (August 24, 2009) -- Frank Kimmel's ease on dirt was apparent during the running of the Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Although Kimmel's hold on the track qualifying record was lost to pole sitter Justin Lofton, Kimmel qualified a respectable third for the Sunday afternoon event.

The driver of the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford Fusion immediately took the second place spot on the track when the green flag dropped. The 100 lap race is especially challenging for those not used to preserving equipment and Kimmel's veteran skills allowed him to maintain a pace second to none in the early laps. As the laps wore on, Kimmel closed in on leader Justin Lofton.

Kimmel radioed in on lap 17 that the car was too tight in the corners. Crew Chief Bill Kimmel devised an in race strategy to give his driver what he asked for if and when the opportunity to pit presented itself.

When the first caution flew on lap 20, the Kimmel brothers discussed their strategy and settled on a stop for an air pressure adjustment they hoped would free the car up for the remaining 80 laps of the event. Kimmel's quick stop in and out of the pit area allowed the No. 44 car to line up sixth for the restart on lap 24, after several cars made the decision to stay out on the racetrack. Kimmel took over the fifth spot on lap 25, but secured another two positions the following lap to be shown in the third spot by lap 26.

On lap 28, Kimmel took over the second spot but faced a hard charging Justin Lofton on his back bumper for the next several laps. On lap 34, Kimmel caught up with race leader Ron Cox in the No. 28 car and began the battle for the lead. Kimmel took lead on lap 36 and continued to add to his slow and steady dirt track domination that he's shown in the past ten plus years. While the caution flag flew on lap 40, it was lap 41 which marked a special moment in Kimmel's stellar career as the nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion led his 10,000th lap in series competition. The crowd showed their appreciation for Kimmel's success by saluting the driver as he crossed the line for another career milestone.

When the field went back to green on lap 44, Kimmel pulled out to a two car length lead on the No. 6 of Lofton. At the halfway point of lap 50, Kimmel remained on the stop but was not able to pull away from his closest competitor. The caution flag flew on lap 51, allowing Kimmel the opportunity to confirm with his team that the tires were still looking good. The field once again took the green flag on lap 56 with Lofton putting serious pressure on Kimmel. With another caution flying the very next lap, Kimmel was still able to maintain the lead and led the field back to green on lap 61. Lofton was like a magnet to Kimmel's back bumper and the two continued a hard fought battle for the lead with Kimmel prevailing.

On lap 69, Kimmel lost the lead to Lofton and another position to the No. 77 car of Parker Kligerman while trying to get around a lapped car. Crew Chief Bill Kimmel Jr. told his driver under caution not to worry and assured him his lap times were still good.

On lap 77, though, the caution flag flew and Kimmel reported that the tires were shaking going into the corners so Crew Chief Bill Kimmel Jr. called his driver in for four tires and a splash of fuel. It turned out to be a good call by the veteran driver as Kimmel's left rear was badly blistered.

Kimmel restarted the race in 21st on lap 81. He was up to 14th in two laps when the caution flew once again. Another caution flag flew on lap 96 and Kimmel was shown in ninth place.

The late race caution set up the field for a green, white, checkered finish. When the Allen Crowe 100 finally wrapped, Kimmel rounded out the day with a ninth place finish.

"Overall and in the grand scheme of things, today was good day for Kimmel Racing," said Kimmel after the race. "To lead laps and to reach the milestone of 10,000 laps led was a huge accomplishment for us. At the end of the day, though, anything but a win is a bit of a disappointment here at Springfield.

"The tires just had somewhat of a blistering feel to them there from the middle of the race on. When I got passed for the lead, I just had a feeling we had a problem and it turned out to be a fact. By coming in for tires, we gave up third place but we didn't come here to run third so we had to take a chance and try to make the car right. It's just not the result we hoped for but what can you do but go on to the next one and keep our head in the game as we focus on getting the first win for Ansell and Menards."

Kimmel's top-10 day at the track is the perfect segue into next week's event at Chicagoland Speedway in which Kimmel represents his sponsor Ansell in its title event - the Ansell Cut Protection 150.

-credit: kr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Ron Cox , Justin Lofton , Parker Kligerman