CONCORD NC, by Don Radebaugh -- There were only two scenarios that could have kept ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel from victory lane Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- a rookie and a wreck. Kimmel, in Larry Clement's Advance Auto ...
CONCORD NC, by Don Radebaugh -- There were only two scenarios that could have kept ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel from victory lane Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway -- a rookie and a wreck. Kimmel, in Larry Clement's Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, managed to avoid both on his way to winning the EasyCare 100, his fourth consecutive RE/MAX Series victory in seven events.
The rookie was Bowling Green, Kentucky sensation Stuart Kirby, who finished second in Bob Schacht's Athens Mobil Speed Park Ford, and the only driver to get within striking distance of Kimmel. The wrecks, any of four to choose from in the 100-mile race, happened behind Kimmel who kept his car in the lead for most of the race, and as a result, out of harms way.
"What a great win for all the guys," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We threw a bunch at the car before the race. I didn't know if we made the right choice, but what a great car. I think we showed what we had tonight. And what a thrill to win in front of all these people on the night of the Winston."
With an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 flooding into LMS, the EasyCare 100 served as a show-opener for NASCAR's all-star event The Winston Open and The Winston. In addition, the race was carried live on the FX cable network.
Tim Steele, one of the few front-runners who pitted during the race, charged from the tail-end to finish third in the HS Die-Softech Ford while Stanton Barrett, who had to start at the tail-end as a result of an engine change, finished fourth in Mark Thompson's Riverside Environmental Disposal Ford. David Keith, in the CLR Ford, finished fifth.
Old Milwaukee polesitter Steele led at the onset until the first caution of the race came out on the second lap for Kerry Earnhardt who, with some help, broke loose in turn three collecting Jerry Glanville as he spun. Earnhardt would return to the race several laps down to finish 20th while Glanville was done for the day. Back under green, Steele continued to lead while Kimmel, who started seventh, made his move towards the front. The second caution would soon appear for a multi-car accident in turn four triggered when Philip Kranefuss and Robby Benton got together causing as many as ten cars to wreck including Justin Labonte, Billy Venturini, Todd Bowsher and rookie Richard Mitchell to name a few. When the green flag waved again, Kimmel out-dueled Kirby for second and soon overhauled Steele for the lead. Steele, saddled with a way-too-tight car, eventually lost the second spot to Kirby. Then the third yellow flag appeared when Ed Berrier got spun and hit the wall in turn four allowing Steele the opportunity to make badly-needed adjustments on pit road under caution. On the restart, Kimmel was now firmly in control and put 20 lengths between himself and Kirby while Steele, in no time, charged back into the top-five. Steele soon raced his way into third but not before Kimmel and Kirby had a built a sizeable lead. Then the final caution came when rookie Josh Richeson, in his first start, lost control between turns three and four and hit the wall taking ARCA veteran Mark Gibson with him on his way up the track. On the final restart, and with the field tightly bunched, Kirby got a run on Kimmel and pulled even with the eventual winner in turns one and two. However, Kimmel had more momentum on the high-side and charged back into the lead as they entered turn three. From there it was all Kimmel who then stretched his advantage to more than two seconds at the final stripe while earning his 27th career RE/MAX Series triumph.
Although there were plenty of wrecked racecars in the end, there were no injuries reported. In all, Kimmel led 45 of the 67 laps and won the Loctite Halfway Leader award bringing his earnings for the night to $23,550.
Union, Kentucky driver Darrell Lanigan finished sixth ahead of Jason Jarrett who steered the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac to the finish in seventh. Mike Swaim Jr, in the Dynatek Chevy, finished eighth in front of America Online driver Andy Belmont in ninth, the last car on the lead lap. Robbie Cowart, who started 31st in the Budweiser Chevy, finished tenth earning the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions.