Charlotte II: Race report

Shelmerdine wins at Lowe's CONCORD NC (10-9-03) -- When it rains it pours. It also pays off; especially for Kirk Shelmerdine whose rain dance worked just long enough to win the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 150 Thursday night at Lowe's...

Shelmerdine wins at Lowe's

CONCORD NC (10-9-03) -- When it rains it pours. It also pays off; especially for Kirk Shelmerdine whose rain dance worked just long enough to win the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 150 Thursday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Shelmerdine, the man who crew-chiefed the late Dale Earnhardt to four NASCAR Winston Cup championships and 44 victories, resurfaced as a force within the ARCA RE/MAX Series ranks in James Hylton's Freddie B's Ford where the savvy veteran kept a sharp eye on the radar screen, and ultimately victory lane.

The Welcome, North Carolina driver steadily worked his way towards the front from the 18th starting spot and then bypassed the opportunity to pit during a caution with the other frontrunners. And when it began to sprinkle as the field approached the halfway point, which would make the race official if necessary, Shelmerdine, who by now was leading, settled in under caution and waited for more of the wet stuff. Just as it appeared the rain had stopped, and the field would go back to green with a race-ready surface, the rain returned with more intensity and covered the track completely thereby prompting series officials to put a period on the event. With the checkered and red flag waving together, Shelmerdine, who led the final 25 laps, cruised across the final stripe as the big winner 34 laps shy of the scheduled 100-lap distance.

"We had a really good car tonight," said Shelmerdine. "I really believe we were good enough to contend for the win without the rain, but we'll take it this way too. Someone's gotta win this thing, and we were out front when the opportunity came. I'd like to dedicate the win to James Hylton who's the reason we were even in the race to begin with. He taught me so much about this sport coming up. This win's his as much as it's mine."

With an ARCA/Lowe's record 70 entries vying for starting positions, Mother Nature spoiled the hopes of many the day before when qualifying was rained out. As a result, the field was set by current car owner points of which Shelmerdine had none, but, quite fortunately, Hylton did. Shelmerdine, entered with Hylton's familiar #48, got in the field strictly on Hylton's car owner point status, and ultimately to victory lane where Shelmerdine celebrated his third series triumph and second at Charlotte, but first ever with car owner Hylton.

Ironically, and possibly sweeter yet, it was Hylton, who as a NASCAR independent, first took Shelmerdine under his wing and taught him the ropes; and the rest, as they say, is history.

AJ Henriksen, in Ted Campbell's CLR-Fastenal-ECC Ford, also chose not to pit and finished second posting his career-best RE/MAX Series finish. Nineteen-year-old Jeremy Clements, with the same strategy, tied his career-best finish in third in the Broadway Motor Company Chevrolet ahead of Andy Ponstein, who in his career-first Lowe's start, finished a solid fourth in the Bailey Excavating-Georgetown Construction Ford. Clements, who started 38th, also won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. Rock Hill, South Carolina veteran David Boggs, who pitted once for a splash of gas, finished a career-best fifth.

However, with Hendrick Motorsports powerhouse Kyle Busch and Winston Cup veteran Greg Sacks in the race, as well as former Lowe's winners' Frank Kimmel, Jeff Fultz and Mario Gosselin, the outcome, without the wet scenario, could arguably have been much different.

Kimmel, from the pole, led the first 25 circuits before Busch, who started 30th, charged into the top spot and took control for the next 16 laps. But with 150 miles to cover, at least one stop for fuel would be necessary to go the full distance, which is why both pitted for service near the 40-lap mark. It's also why they would ultimately finish well down in the running order when the skies opened up signaling the beginning of the end.

Still yet, Kimmel, by simply rolling off the grid, secured his fifth ARCA RE/MAX Series championship in the last six seasons. Only six-time champion Iggy Katona holds more series titles than Kimmel.

Jason Jarrett finished sixth in the Gladiator GarageWorks-Damon RV Chevrolet in front of Christi Passmore who steered the GAP Roofing-Royal Trading Ford to the finish in seventh. Shelby Howard finished eighth in the Tour de Georgia Dodge over Billy Venturini who came to the finish in ninth in the Speedway Harley Davidson Chevrolet. Brent Sherman finished tenth in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Ford.

Mark Gibson, a front-runner from the start, had his hopes go up in smoke when the Winder, Georgia driver plowed the wall hard off turn four after cutting a tire. Gibson was not injured and received the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award as a result as well as the Gladiator of the Race honors. Gibson, who was credited with the 35th finishing position, also dropped from third to sixth in series points with only one race left in 2003 at South Boston Speedway Saturday night, October 18.

TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS AFTER LOWE'S:
1) Frank Kimmel 5650
2) Jason Jarrett 4985
3) Billy Venturini 4600
4) Shelby Howard 4570
5) Brent Sherman 4550
6) Mark Gibson 4500
7) Bill Eversole 4230
8) Christi Passmore 4175
9) Todd Bowsher 4045
10) Ron Cox 3965.

-www.arcaracing.com

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Frank Kimmel , Jason Jarrett , Shelby Howard , Kirk Shelmerdine , Billy Venturini , Ted Campbell , Ron Cox , Brent Sherman , Mark Gibson , Todd Bowsher , Jeff Fultz , James Hylton , Jeremy Clements , Greg Sacks , Christi Passmore , Andy Ponstein , Mario Gosselin , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports