Springfield race report 2002-08-17

Kimmel wears Springfield dirt crown SPRINGFIELD IL (8-18-02) Although the race was chock-full of fast, raring-to-go rookies, when it comes to dirt-track business, experience, when the dust settles, always seems to shake out up front. Veteran ...

Kimmel wears Springfield dirt crown

SPRINGFIELD IL (8-18-02) Although the race was chock-full of fast, raring-to-go rookies, when it comes to dirt-track business, experience, when the dust settles, always seems to shake out up front. Veteran Frank Kimmel, in dominating fashion, posted his 40th career ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph Sunday afternoon in the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds dirt-mile. It was Kimmel's fifth career win on dirt and third consecutive at Springfield.

"What a great car," said Kimmel in victory lane. "The Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford was fast right off the truck. Man, what a great job my crew did to get me up front. These guys are the best."

Actually, it was Kimmel who seemed best in this round. Outside of one pit stop for a splash of gas and to scrape some mud off, Kimmel completely controlled the race leading 84 laps of the 100-lap, 100-mile event while a mix of veterans raced hard for second on back. St. Joseph, Missouri veteran Doug Keller, in his own Van Am Tooling & Engineering Pontiac, emerged in the end to finish a career-best second. Veterans' Bob Strait and Joe Cooksey made their returns to RE/MAX Series competition with resounding success posting third and fourth place finishes respectively while Hesston, Pennsylvania veteran Tom Eriksen, in the Eriksen Well Drilling Chevrolet, finished a career-best fifth.

Old Milwaukee Pole Award Qualifying was rained out so the field was set by current car owner points putting Kimmel and rookie Chad Blount on the front row while several veterans, with few points, started in the back. Kimmel, who led at the onset, flexed his muscles immediately and pulled out to a 20-length advantage while the likes of Andy Belmont, Ron Cox, Strait, Todd Coon and Billy Thomas charged towards the front. Kimmel forfeited the lead when he made his pit stop 19 laps in, as did several other front-runners, while Belmont and Cox stayed out. Back under green, Belmont led four laps before Cox charged his way into the lead with Thomas, Belmont, Kimmel, Strait and Coon trailing. Cox showed the way for eight laps before Thomas took control for the next four circuits. Then Kimmel charged ahead and took the lead from Thomas on lap 36. From there, Kimmel seemed to be on cruise control while Coon, Cox, Thomas and Strait waged war for second. Coon eventually won the war for second and began to set his sights on the leader. However, Coon, poised for a career day, began falling back with engine trouble while Strait, Thomas and Cox swapped back and forth for second, third and fourth.

While Coon continued to fall back, Cooksey, Keller, Eriksen, Norm Benning and Kevin Belmont moved ahead to challenge. Then Thomas and Cox locked horns racing for third in turn three eliminating Thomas from competition while Cox soldiered home with a broken racecar in 19th.

With eight cautions for 34 laps, the field had plenty of opportunities to work on Kimmel however none was his equal on this day.

Benning, in his own Chevy, finished a career-best with Belmont, in James Hylton's Ford, finishing a career-best seventh. Blount was the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie in eighth while Billy Venturini, in the Lean Supreme Chevrolet, finished ninth. Jason Jarrett finished tenth in the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac.

In addition to Kimmel's first-place prize money, the current RE/MAX Series point leader picked up the Loctite Halfway Leader award while Cooksey, who started 31st, won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. Rookie Shelby Howard, who cut down a tire early on, was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award.

The ARCA RE/MAX Series gets busy next with the Winchester ARCA 200 at Winchester Speedway Saturday night, August 31 with a quick turnaround to follow at the DuQuoin, Illinois dirt-mile on Monday, Labor Day, September 2. The series completes the quick sweep the following Saturday, September 7 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Andy Belmont , Chad Blount , Kevin Belmont , Jason Jarrett , Shelby Howard , Billy Venturini , Ron Cox , Doug Keller