Salem IN, 9-10-00, by Don Radebaugh -- With three-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Tim Steele and NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader looming large in his rear view mirror, Frank Kimmel, with less than two laps remaining, had to force the issue in...
Salem IN, 9-10-00, by Don Radebaugh -- With three-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Tim Steele and NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader looming large in his rear view mirror, Frank Kimmel, with less than two laps remaining, had to force the issue in order to claim the hard fought victory in the Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA 200 Sunday at Salem Speedway.
And when the 11th and final caution flag came out with less than five laps remaining setting up the green-white-checker finish, Kimmel got more than he had bargained for when Steele out-foxed the hometown favorite off the second corner heading to the white flag. Kimmel, who had been protecting Steele's patented low-line exit off turn two, got the wake-up call when Steele unexpectedly steered high and edged ahead of Kimmel entering the backstretch. While Schrader watched and wondered, Kimmel and Steele tattooed each other all the way down the backstretch before Kimmel wrestled back the top-spot in time for turn three. With the white flag flying, Kimmel would not afford Steele the same opportunity again, and in the end, raced beneath the checkers .349 seconds in front of Steele's HS Die-Softech Ford with Schrader trailing in third in his own Federated Auto Parts Chevy.
"Wow, what a race," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We really had to push the buttons there at the end with Tim (Steele) alongside. I hope we didn't push him too hard but we had led most of the way and were in no mood to give it up that late in the game. The Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevy was great all day until we had that tire go down on us. That put us behind but once we got back up front, all we had to do was keep the car straight and dodge the bullets. But what a great feeling to beat Tim and Ken Schrader. Those guys are some of the best in the business and we're sure proud of this one, especially being so close to home."
'This one' posted win number six for the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver in 2000 and the 23rd ARCA victory of his career. It also helped pad his existing point lead headed into the homestretch with just three events remaining.
Having missed qualifying due to a Winston Cup commitment at Richmond the night before, Schrader was forced to start 32nd in the field and worked himself into a position to contend for the win before time ran out on the seven-time ARCA winner. Regardless, the Concord, North Carolina driver was credited with the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Honors for advancing the most positions.
Brian Ross, in the Damon RV Chevy, led 53 laps exchanging the lead twice with Kimmel and once with Steele before finishing fourth ahead of fifth place finisher Bob Strait in the Dauphin Tech Chevy. Jeff Finley, aboard the Bailey Excavating Chevy, was in the thick of it all afternoon and finished sixth in front of Joe Cooksey's Brandon Industrial Parts Chevy in seventh. Mark Voigt raced his Team Stealth Chevy home in eighth while ARCA rookie Damon Lusk, making his first Salem appearance, continued to impress with a respectable ninth place finish in James Hylton's Reliance Tool & Manufacturing Ford, the last car on the lead lap. Veteran Bob Schacht, in the Racing for Christ Ford, completed the top-10.
Kimmel, who also won the Talladega Pole Award, dominated most of the race leading 126 laps of the scheduled 200 while Steele, who led for 26 laps, was the only other race leader outside of Ross. In addition to the exciting finish, fans were busy all afternoon keeping up with a variety of wrecks all around the speedway, and although no drivers were injured, 61 laps were run under caution while safety crews worked diligently to keep the track cleared of wrecked cars and all the residual debris. The most devastating incident occurred in turns one and two when as many as six lead-lap machines tangled trying to get by lapped traffic unwilling to cooperate with the usual 'move-over and get out of the way' routine. Cars involved included drivers' Mark Gibson, Bobby Gerhart, Shawna Robinson, AJ Henriksen and Jon Herb to name a few. And although many returned to competition after lengthy pit road repairs, Gibson and Henriksen were through for the day.
The ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will wrap up its season superspeedway style with events at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 4 followed by Talladega Superspeedway on October 14 culminating with the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on November 18.
CURRENT TOP-10 POINTS: Frank Kimmel 4260, Bob Strait 3935, Tim Steele 3910, Brian Ross 3785, Bobby Gerhart 3620, Mark Gibson 3475, Shawna Robinson 3435, Norm Benning 3330, Joe Cooksey 3265, Andy Belmont 3215.