Frank Kimmel Proves Survival is Key to Championship Strategy; Finishes 11th in First Race of ARCA RE/MAX Series Season DAYTONA BEACH (Feb. 7, 2009) -- It was a wild day of racing for Frank Kimmel and the entire Kimmel Racing crew. In addition to...
Frank Kimmel Proves Survival is Key to Championship Strategy; Finishes 11th in First Race of ARCA RE/MAX Series Season
DAYTONA BEACH (Feb. 7, 2009) -- It was a wild day of racing for Frank Kimmel and the entire Kimmel Racing crew. In addition to welcoming new sponsors Ansell and Menards, the No. 44 Ford team managed to survive a caution filled season opener to come away with a respectable 11th place finish in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway.
"It was certainly an interesting day and an action packed debut of the Ansell / Menards Ford Fusion," said Kimmel. "My thanks go out to the team. They all did an excellent job on pit road tonight and because of their efforts we were able to finish this race on the lead lap."
Despite being content with the solid finish, Kimmel was quick to share his thoughts on the number of cautions that plagued the scheduled 80-lap event.
"I hate to see that many cautions and I honestly think something needs to be done to the front bumpers of these cars to prevent this sort of thing from happening at the next plate race," explained Kimmel. "Still, we had a top-15 car at the start of the race and did what we could to improve on it throughout the race."
Kimmel took the green flag in 24th place and spend the first quarter of the race just outside of the top-20. The first caution flag flew on lap 14 and Kimmel's survival skills made their first appearance of the 2009 season as the veteran driver skillfully drove through the wreckage of a multi-car incident.
After restarting the race in 16th place, Kimmel continued his charge to the front. The next caution on lap 29 provided Kimmel with mounting challenges in the form of rear end contact which left slight damage to the No. 44 Ford.
"On that first caution, I was in good shape and then someone must have just run over the back of me," explained Kimmel.
Despite the moderate damage to the left rear fender, Kimmel's crew was quick to assess and repair the damage, careful to keep the Ansell / Menards car on the lead lap.
Once racing resumed, several additional cautions and close calls for Kimmel made for a lively center portion of the race. By lap 57, Kimmel was up to the seventh position and hoping to end the day with a top-five finish. Unfortunately, another on track incident made its way into Kimmel's racing region and on lap 75 he was collected in the sixth caution of the night.
"I wasn't sure what happened at the time and honestly I still don't know exactly what went on out there during that last caution," said Kimmel. "I must have run over something because I was still under complete control of the car and I thought I was through the wreck when I spun."
Nevertheless, Kimmel's crew went to work and managed to repair serious rear end damage well enough to allow the No. 44 Ansell / Menards car to return to the race track on the lead lap. Ultimately, Kimmel brought his Ford Fusion home in 11th place, but quickly reminded his team that this was not a bad way to begin the battle for his 10th ARCA RE/MAX Series championship.
"It may not have been exactly the way we wanted to start the year, but we survived," said Kimmel. "We're not starting with a deficit -- thanks the great work by this Kimmel Racing crew keeping the Ansell / Menards car on the lead lap.
"Obviously, we want to win, but we're big picture racing here and we've got 21 more opportunities to get to victory lane. Today we survived and that's what champions do."
The next race for Frank Kimmel and the Ansell / Menards team may be nearly two months away on Sunday, April 5, but the employees of Kimmel Racing don't plan to rest -- they've got a championship to win.
"I'm glad we've got the first race under our belt," said Crew Chief Bill Kimmel. "But we're not planning on taking any time off to relax. We're ready to work hard so that we clearly establish ourselves as force to be reckoned with on a weekly basis."