Talladega: Frank Kimmel race report

Kimmel Charges His Way to a Top -- Five Finish at Talladega TALLADEGA, AL (April 25, 2009) -- The Alabama sun was shining on the Ansell/Menards Ford as Frank Kimmel took the Green Flag in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega ...

Kimmel Charges His Way to a Top -- Five Finish at Talladega

TALLADEGA, AL (April 25, 2009) -- The Alabama sun was shining on the Ansell/Menards Ford as Frank Kimmel took the Green Flag in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Kimmel's 13th place qualifying effort gave the entire team a boost as track position would be key to avoiding the typical 'Dega drama.

The first caution flag flew on lap on lap three with Kimmel up to the sixth position. Upon restarting the race in the top-10 on lap 10, a long Green Flag run ensued with Kimmel showing sixth in the 14-car breakaway that made up the front pack.

"You're doing a great job Franko," radioed Crew Chief Bill Kimmel to his driver. "This is sort of like a waiting game here so we'll just ride this out for a while."

As discussed during the pre race preparations, the team knew they could possibly make it through the 94-lap event with only one pit stop. That being known, race strategy could be key to a strong finish.

At lap 28 Kimmel started to fall back with worries of a right front tire rub as a result of brief and slight contact with the No. 04 car. Eight laps later he reported a slight miss in the motor and thought perhaps he was hitting the chip. At the time Kimmel had fallen to the 17th position.

The well-timed caution flag flew on lap 45 just one lap before Kimmel was scheduled to make a green flag stop. After pitting for four tires and fuel, Kimmel returned to pit road for a second time to work on what the team thought could be an ignition box issue, with hopes of alleviating the miss in the motor.

Kimmel returned to the track in 19th place and restarted the race on lap 49. By lap 51, he was up to the 16th position and back in the hunt for a second win at Talladega.

Surprisingly, green flag conditions continued for another stretch of plate racing. It seemed like the calm before the 'storm to the finish' at a track well known for its wild racing action.

Within two laps, Kimmel was up to the 12th place. One lap later he was back in the top-10. With 27 laps to go, the team had an anxious moment when Kimmel came down pit road unannounced with reports of a left rear gone flat. The time spent on pit road under green relegated Kimmel to one lap down.

On lap 70, the caution flag flew giving the No. 44 Ansell/Menards team the much needed Lucky Dog award and putting Kimmel back on the lead lap for the closing laps of the race. The pit crew went to work on Kimmel's car giving their driver fresh tires for the less than 20-lap chase to the checkered flag.

With nine laps to go a wreck occurred directly in front of Kimmel but the driver used his veteran skills to avoid the may lay and took the caution flag with eight laps to go in sixth place. ARCA officials displayed the red flag to clean up the resulting damage and when the field took the checkered flag with three laps to go. A wreck coming to the green flag put the field back under caution and setting up for a green-white-checkered finish. Kimmel once again restarted the race in sixth place with hopes of recording a top finish for Kimmel Racing. Two laps later, Kimmel had gained one spot, coming home with an impressive fifth place finish in the fourth race of the season.

"In a word, I'd say our day was challenging but as the saying goes 'all's well that ends well," said nine-time champion Frank Kimmel following the race. "To have the problems we had with the tires and the ignition box, I'm pretty proud of this whole team for coming home in fifth. A championship team is definitely defined by adversity and we've proven through the first four races that we can weather the storm."

The green-white-checkered action had given Kimmel the opportunity to advance his position even further in the final lap of the race.

"I thought we could have gotten a run on the leaders at the end there but when the 32 car went out there I could see that wasn't going to work," explained Kimmel. "I stayed in line and he tried to duck back in but I just tucked up behind the 29 and the 19 stayed in line with me and that helped us bring home a top-five. It's the first top-five finish for Ansell and Menards so that's pretty cool."

With his Talladega finish in the books, Frank Kimmel moves up to third place in the championship standings. The ARCA RE/MAX Series will take a week off before heading to Kentucky Speedway for the Drive Safe Buckle-Up Kentucky on May 9.

-credit: arca

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Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel