Kimmel Controls Pocono ARCA 200 By Don Radebaugh After a slow start to the season, defending ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Frank Kimmel finally got back on track with a convincing ...
Kimmel Controls Pocono ARCA 200 By Don Radebaugh
After a slow start to the season, defending ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Frank Kimmel finally got back on track with a convincing victory Saturday in the Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono International Raceway. The Jeffersonville, Indiana driver held off Matt Hutter by .635 seconds to earn the $20,770 top prize and his 15th ARCA triumph in his 155th attempt.
Despite losing his overdrive gear early on in the 80 lap event, Kimmel kept the Larry Clement-owned Advance Auto Parts-Riteway Industrial Chevrolet up front for most of the afternoon leading 37 circuits in the 200 mile race. "The biggest concern was the transmission that was jumping around and making lots of racket," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We lost the overdrive gear right away and I had to race all the way around in 3rd gear. I’ll tell you, when that happened, I thought we were done but this Chevy just hung in there all afternoon. I want to thank my crew chief, my brother Bill, who made great calls in the pits, and my whole crew who gave me excellent stops all afternoon. Four tires and a full load of fuel in 19 and a half seconds definitely helped get us to victory lane."
Current ARCA point leader Bill Baird brought his Eagle One Chevrolet home in third ahead of Bob Schacht’s Engineered Components Ford with Mark Gibson’s JaniKing Ford trailing in fifth. In all, eleven cars finished on the lead lap including the Biomet Chevrolet of Hueytown, Alabama driver Jimmy Kitchens who raced his way from the 17th starting position to sixth in the final running order in front of Bobby Gerhart, David Keith, Mike Ciochetti and Tracy Leslie to complete the top ten. Montoursville, Pennsylvania driver and former ARCA rookie of the year Blaise Alexander was the last car on the lead lap in 11th.
After rain washed away all attempts at qualifying, the starting grid rolled off according to current car owner points which put Baird on the pole. The Sturgis, Kentucky driver led at the onset and held the point for 13 rounds before Kimmel took his turn up front. However Kimmel’s tenure in the top-spot was short-lived when Baird raced on by down the frontstretch to reassume command. Then Hutter, in Ed Rensi’s Dura Lube Chevrolet, maneuvered his way into the lead and paced the field up through lap 36 before giving it up to Keith for four laps while most of the front-runners came down pit road for service. While pitstops were being completed, Schacht showed the way for 2 rounds until Kimmel, with fresh tires, charged back into the lead. Kimmel would give up the lead only once more during the second round of pitstops to Alexander before taking control for good on the 64th circuit. The caution flag appeared only twice during the 200 miler for nine laps.
Keith, who drives for Jeremy Mayfield, was credited with the Auto Value Halfway Leader Award and was the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie. Alexander picked up the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Honors for advancing the most positions, from 26th to 11th. The ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series gears up next for a go at the short-tracks with June 25th and 26th appearances at Toledo and Shady Bowl Speedways followed by a July 10th Berlin Raceway date before returning to Pocono on July 24th.
SERIES POINT LEADERS: Bill Baird 1775, Bobby Gerhart 1615, Frank Kimmel 1585, Bob Strait 1465, Mark Gibson 1335, Bob Schacht 1320, Joe Cooksey 1275, Cavin Councilor 1225, Ron Cox 1205, Andy Belmont 1200.