Flemington Race Report

Frank Kimmel and crew fly at Flemington by Don Radebaugh Flemington, NJ, (8-15-99) Frank Kimmel’s crew changed everything but the driver Sunday afternoon at Flemington Speedway, and it paid off with a convincing victory in the Summit Banks...

Frank Kimmel and crew fly at Flemington by Don Radebaugh

Flemington, NJ, (8-15-99) Frank Kimmel’s crew changed everything but the driver Sunday afternoon at Flemington Speedway, and it paid off with a convincing victory in the Summit Banks 150 when the defending ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion rolled Larry Clement’s Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet into victory lane at the legendary fairgrounds oval.

After replacing a blown engine the night before and a broken clutch after the final practice session on race day, Kimmel next had to fight a slipping transmission throughout the event, as well as late-race charges from Bobby Gerhart, Tracy Leslie and Bill Baird to earn his 17th ARCA triumph in his 162nd attempt. The win moved the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver ahead of Benny Parsons on the all-time ARCA win list to 14th, and into a tie with two-time champion Bobby Bowsher. Gerhart, in his Kewadin Casinos Chevrolet, finished three lengths back in second ahead of current point leader Baird who edged Leslie at the stripe by a fender for third. Jeff Finley, in the Dura Lube Chevrolet, completed the top five finishers.

"We really struggled here this week," said Kimmel in victory lane. "This crew just wouldn’t quit though. We blew the engine yesterday, broke the clutch today, and then my transmission kept slipping the whole race. That’s why we fell back on the first restart. I’m not quite sure how we ended up in victory lane but it’s always great to be back. If not for our two excellent pitstops, we probably wouldn’t be. But my crew never lets me down so I wasn’t about to let them down."

With seven cautions for minor incidents amounting to 41 laps, the field had ample opportunity for pitroad service, but it was Kimmel’s decision to get service early on that seemed to work best. While polesitter Baird, with Leslie and Finley directly behind, stayed out to lead the first 93 laps, Kimmel, after pitting twice to change four tires, steadily worked his way forward to challenge the front-runners, and by the 80th circuit had reeled in Baird to race for the lead. By the time Kimmel reached the leader’s back bumper, Baird, on older tires, developed a push opening up the door for Kimmel who began peaking inside of Baird’s Saturn Machine-Eagle One Chevy at all opportunities. With barely enough breathing room off the fourth corner, Kimmel again put a fender inside of Baird’s left quarter panel, however this time contact was made. While Baird chased his car up the track to regain control, Kimmel, Gerhart and Mark Gibson raced underneath shuffling Baird back to fourth in the order ahead of Leslie and Finley who also had not yet been down pitroad. With laps winding down, another caution flag waved giving Baird, Leslie and Finley what may have been their final shot at pitroad under caution. All three took the bait, came in and changed tires while Kimmel continued to show the way trackside with Gerhart and Robbie Pyle, both of whom elected to forego pitstops, in tow followed by Bob Schacht and Dill Whittymore. Back under green, Baird, Leslie and Finley charged back towards the front while Kimmel opened up a healthy straightaway lead over Gerhart and Pyle. Leslie, in Jack Bowsher’s Zinsser Paint Products Ford, got to Gerhart with less than 30 laps remaining with Baird trailing and staged a furious door-to-door battle for second while Kimmel continued to build his advantage. Then with less than ten laps to go the caution flag waved one final time allowing Gerhart, Leslie, Baird and Finley to form a tight line in Kimmel’s rear view mirror. But the eventual winner was undaunted by the new arrivals and when the race went back to green with three laps remaining, kept all at bay en route to victory lane. Pyle held on for sixth ahead of Schacht, Gibson, Blaise Alexander and Whittymore to finish out the top ten.

Kimmel pocketed $15,770 for his efforts while Baird added the Auto Value Halfway Leader award money to his total. Pyle was the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger award winner for advancing the most positions, from 26th to sixth, and Ron Cox took home the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie honors for his 11th place finish.

SERIES POINT LEADERS: Bill Baird 3645, Frank Kimmel 3270, Bobby Gerhart 3120, Mark Gibson 2845, Joe Cooksey 2835, Bob Schacht 2705, Cavin Councilor 2590, Ron Cox 2540, Andy Belmont 2505, Dill Whittymore 2480.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Blaise Alexander , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Bobby Gerhart , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Benny Parsons , Bill Baird , Bob Schacht