Kimmel wins at Berlin; sweeps Memorial Day Weekend ARCA RE/MAX double-header MARNE MI (5-24-03) - Fresh from victory lane at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina the day before, Frank Kimmel again found his way into the winner's...
Kimmel wins at Berlin; sweeps Memorial Day Weekend ARCA RE/MAX double-header
MARNE MI (5-24-03) - Fresh from victory lane at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina the day before, Frank Kimmel again found his way into the winner's circle at the Berlin Raceway short-track in Marne, Michigan Saturday night by winning the Pork The Other White Meat 200. It was Kimmel's 46th career ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph.
Through a series of adjustments over the course of three pit stops, Kimmel' s Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford car improved consistently throughout the 200-lap race to the point where the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver, in the end, pulled away from the pack.
"We did some extra work on that first pitstop," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We made air pressure adjustments to tighten up the car; we also pulled a spring rubber out of the right rear. With the air pressure adjustments, the last two sets (of tires) tightened up the car and made it work. Hats off to Billy Venturini; he drove a great race."
Billy Venturini, in the MC Sports Pontiac, led 74 laps and looked to be on his way to his career-first victory before engine gremlins surfaced late in the race. Venturini was all over Kimmel for the lead with less than 20 laps remaining until he suddenly began to lose ground. "We're so disappointed," said Venturini. "I don't want to take anything away from Frank; he's good everywhere, but we really felt we had the car to beat. We may have broken a valve spring or something because the motor just laid down there at the end. I don't know what we have to do to get our first one (victory)."
Venturini still finished fourth while Brent Sherman, in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford, posted his career-best finish in second. "I'm not sure what changes Lee (Leslie/crew chief) made; all I know is that I tell him what the car is, or isn't doing, and he fixes it," said Sherman. "I told him we were loose off the corner and we needed more forward bite. Guess what; when we went back out, the car wasn't so loose and we had more forward bite. This is like a win for this team; it's as much his (Leslie's) as it is mine."
Ron Cox, in Wayne Hixson's Pontiac, recovered from a mid-race spin and charged from the tail-end twice to finish a career-best third. "We never adjusted the car," said Cox. "We didn't need to; it was perfect from the start and it stayed that way. Man I love this track." Berlin regular Andy Ponstein finished a solid fifth in John Bailey's Chevrolet.
At the onset, Kimmel's machine wasn't nearly as good as it would become while Venturini, who started fourth, passed Old Milwaukee polesitter Fred Campbell on lap 16 and checked out. With six cautions to choose from, all for minor incidents, a majority of the front-runners, including Venturini and Kimmel, pitted together on the 73rd lap. Venturini soon raced his way back into the lead on lap 99 passing Ponstein, who didn't pit in the first round. Like before, Venturini continued to pull away from the pack and led through lap 114 before forfeiting the lead on the next round of pit stops. During the next green-flag run, Kimmel, with a better handling car, emerged as the leader with Venturini in tow. But as good as Kimmel's car had become, he could not shake Venturini who, inches away, worked Kimmel for the lead continuously. The leaders would pit one more time for final adjustments and tires with Kimmel, Venturini, Sherman, Cox, Shelby Howard and Jason Jarrett all in position to win with laps winding down. Venturini would continue to be Kimmel's biggest problem until Venturini's machine began to sputter inside of 20 laps to go. And while Venturini's machine began to back up, Sherman and Cox stepped up. But with Venturini removed from Kimmel's rear view mirror, the eventual winner had no immediate challengers and cruised to the checkered flag with a five-length advantage over Sherman.
Other laps leaders over the course of pit stop exchanges included Berlin late model regular Billy Shotko who qualified outside pole and 17-year-old Howard who would eventually finish sixth. Jarrett finished seventh while Campbell, who recovered from several stops on pit road to cure an ill-handling car, finished eighth. ARCA Rookie of the Year contender Bill Eversole finished a solid ninth earning the Highest Finishing Rookie honors with Shotko trailing in tenth. John Sadinsky, the last car on the lead lap, finished 11th. Veteran Joe Cooksey finished 12th from the 20th starting position earning the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award.