DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Feb. 7) -- Tim Steele is aiming at winning his fourth ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series points title during the 2000 season, but he'll have to overcome the odds of spotting the competition a race if he's able to accomplish that ...
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Feb. 7) -- Tim Steele is aiming at winning his fourth ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series points title during the 2000 season, but he'll have to overcome the odds of spotting the competition a race if he's able to accomplish that goal.
"We're focusing all of our attention on winning us another ARCA championship trophy this season, but we're going to start out with our backs against the wall by missing the Daytona race," said Steele of the Sunday, Feb. 13 Pro2Call ARCA 200 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. "The bottom line is that we're just not prepared to go. We've never gone into an ARCA race without all of our ducks in a row and that's the case this time around."
"Our only big-track car got crashed out at Talladega back in October," said Steele, the third generation Michigan racer and three-time ARCA champ. "We thought there might have been something salvageable, but it was only good for the junk yard after that race. We got a late start on building a replacement and that car won't be in any shape to take to Daytona. There's just absolutely no way."
"Without a good car and without any pre-season testing, we all agreed that the best thing for us to do is forget Daytona and focus all of our attention on the remainder of the schedule. With the second race on the schedule not coming until the end of April (April 30 at Salem, Ind.), that'll give us plenty of time to come out with both barrels loaded for them the rest of the season."
"Missing out on the points given for the Daytona race and the bonus points that the series gives for attempting to make all the races really puts us behind the eight ball and we all realize that," said Steele. "But, we're looking at the situation as one of overcoming the odds. It'll be the ultimate challenge and we love challenges."
Ironically in Steele's most recent ARCA championship run, in his successful bid for the 1997 points title, he'd built up such a points lead during the season that he was able to sit out the final race of the season at Atlanta. In his 1993 rookie ARCA season, the former late model standout earned his nickname of the "Man of Steele" by winning three races, recording 11 top-five finishes and finishing in the top 10 in all 12 races. He also collected three poles along the way. Steele won the points title by a margin of 370 points (5,070 to 4,700) over runner-up Bob Keselowski. His run to the 1996 series title boasted 11 wins, 17 top-five finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and four poles in 25 races. His points margin over runner-up Bobby Bowsher was 970 (6,980 to 6,010). Steele bounced back in 1997 to claim his third points title over runner-up Frank Kimmel by 90 points (5,810 to 5,720). Competing in 21 of the 22 races, Steele claimed 12 wins, 15 top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes and eight pole positions.
"We know that this will be the biggest challenge we've ever had and probably the biggest odds we've tried to overcome, but it's our big goal for the year," said Steele. "The competition in ARCA is at an all-time high and there are more full-time and better financed teams than ever. We've really got our work cut out for us and we realize that."
Steele's ARCA career record entering the 2000 season sports 94 career starts in which he has posted 34 wins (36.2%), 59 top-five finishes (62.8%), 69 top-10 finishes (73.4%) and 23 pole positions (24.5%). He is the all-time ARCA series superspeedway leader with 20 victories on tracks one-mile in length and larger.Steele was the series' first $1 million winner and currently ranks second in career earnings to Kimmel ($1,039,518 for Kimmel and $1,021,267 for Steele) with Kimmel competing in 75 more races than Steele.