Frank Kimmel cleans up Springfield dirt

Frank Kimmel finally got the one he wanted. by Don Radebaugh After 183-career ARCA starts, the 1998 series champion and current point leader added the Springfield dirt mile to his resume Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds with a...

Frank Kimmel finally got the one he wanted.
by Don Radebaugh

After 183-career ARCA starts, the 1998 series champion and current point leader added the Springfield dirt mile to his resume Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds with a victory in the PAR-A-DICE ARCA 100. And by doing so, the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver chalked up his 22nd ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series victory and fifth of the year.

“I rank this one right up there with our speedway victories – Charlotte, Michigan and Pocono,” said the very satisfied winner in victory lane. “I’ve been wanting to win one so bad on a dirt mile. We’ve been so close so many times, like last year when I screwed up and let (Bill) Baird get me on the last lap. Now this year we had Baird on our bumper for the last lap, but I wasn’t about to make the same mistake. He raced me tough, and he got alongside us down the last stretch, but we had the better line off the corner. This Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevy was tough today. Big thanks to my car owner Larry Clement and the whole crew. They were awesome as always.”

The last lap was pretty awesome too with Kimmel in the lead followed by 15 additional lead-lap cars lined up in his mirror. Kimmel, careful not to make any mistakes, held the bottom lane conservatively while Baird crawled within inches to challenge. With nothing to lose, Baird drove it in hard in three and four and got his right-front fender inside of Kimmel’s off the final turn. From there, it was a drag race with Kimmel edging the defending race winner and ’99 series champ by a half length at the checkered flag. Joe Cooksey, in the Maurtco Powder Coating Chevy, turned his season around with a third place finish a length away from Baird. Bob Strait, in the Dauphin Tech Chevy, was next in line in fourth with leading ARCA Rookie contender Brian Ross tightly trailing in fifth.

Rookie Damon Lusk, making his first-ever start on dirt, got everyone’s attention when he qualified James Hylton’s Reliance Tool & Manufacturing Ford on the pole. Outside polesitter Kimmel, who got the jump on Lusk at the onset, paced the field up through lap 20 before coming down pit road for service under caution. That gave the lead to Tim Steele who elected to stay out. Back under green, Steele led for eight laps before the caution flag appeared again giving Steele the opportunity for pit road service while Todd Coon inherited the lead. Coon posted four laps on the leader board before he too came down pit road for service giving the lead to Baird who had raced from the tail-end after pitting earlier. Baird held strong for 45 rounds before Kimmel raced underneath for the lead on lap 78. Kimmel never gave it up from there, and at times, had a 10-length margin over Baird but another caution flag with less than two laps remaining set the field up for a thrilling green-white-checker finish. But while Baird had his sights set on the leader on the last lap, Cooksey made a strong bid for second when the Centralia, Illinois driver raced his machine inside of Baird’s heading to turn one. The two cars bumped, however Cooksey backed off, let Baird regain his line, and ultimately, the opportunity to go after Kimmel one final time.

Bobby Gerhart, in the Greektown Casinos Chevy, finished sixth hot on the heels of Ross while Steele, who pitted twice, fought back to finish seventh in his HS-Die Softech Ford. Cooksey’s teammate Mark Gibson, in the Cornwell Tools Chevy, crossed the line in eighth ahead of Ron Cox, who also survived two trips down pit road to finish ninth in the John Dunn Trucking Chevy. Norm Benning, another frequent flyer on pit road, completed the top-10 finishers in his SoBe Healthy Refreshments Chevy.

Pit road ended up being as busy as the race track while a total of 12 cautions for 52 laps kept the crews on their toes all day long. The most frightening accident happened in turn three and four when Dean Roper, Mark Voigt and Curt Piercy locked horns sending all three machines hard into the Springfield wall. All three cars were badly damaged and done for the day although none of the drivers were injured. Steele and Benning also caught a piece of the aforementioned tangle which is why additional stops on pit road were necessary to get their cars back in the hunt. Coon was in the top-10 all day long until he backed his Mid City Truck Repair Chevy into the turn one wall after getting a nudge from Steele with less than 10 laps remaining. Coon was not injured.

Kimmel led the most laps however Baird was credited with the Auto Value Halfway Leader honors while Cavin Councilor won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions, from 32nd to 15th. Ross was the Prestone ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie while Strait, who survived a flat tire and three trips down pit road for his top-five finish, won the Hawk Best Brake of the Race Award.

POINTS: Frank Kimmel 3345, Bob Strait 3120, Tim Steele 3075, Brian Ross 3050, Bobby Gerhart 2820, Mark Gibson 2780, Shawna Robinson 2690, Andy Belmont 2625, Norm Benning 2615, Joe Cooksey 2430.

<pre> 2000 ARCA BONDO/MAR-HYDE SERIES EVENT #14 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield IL, 8-20-00 Official Results, PAR-A-DICE 100

FIN STR NO DRIVER/RESIDENCE TEAM & CAR LAPS STATUS

1 2 46 Frank Kimmel/Jeffersonville IN Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevrolet 104 Running 2 13 52 Bill Baird/Sturgis KY Jan Baird Motorsports Chevrolet 104 Running 3 7 51 Joe Cooksey/Centralia IL Maurtco Motorsports Chevrolet 104 Running 4 4 66 Bob Strait/Mokena IL Dauphin Technologies Chevrolet 104 Running 5 3 67 Brian Ross/Plymouth IN Biomet Chevrolet 104 Running 6 11 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Greektown Casinos Chevrolet 104 Running 7 5 16 Tim Steele/Coopersville MI HS Die-Softech Ford 104 Running 8 20 59 Mark Gibson/Winder GA Cornwell Tools Chevrolet 104 Running 9 18 23 Ron Cox/Soddy Daisy TN John Dunn Trucking Chevrolet 104 Running 10 12 84 Norm Benning/Pittsburgh PA SoBe Healthy Refreshments Chevrolet 104 Running 11 1 48 Damon Lusk/Spartanburg SC Reliance Tool & Manufacturing Ford 104 Running 12 9 8 Shawna Robinson/Des Moines IA Kmart-Pacific Garden Ford 104 Running 13 23 0 Richard Hampton/Seymour IN Big O Tires-Texaco Chevrolet 104 Running 14 28 7 Randy VanZant/Brookville OH Mike's Auto Body Pontiac 104 Running 15 32 19 Cavin Councilor/Naples FL Target Saws & Blades-Earthlink Chevrolet 104 Running 16 17 79 Charlie Schaefer/Carlyle IL Schaefer Racing Chevrolet 104 Running 17 30 42 Scott Kuhn/Thomasville NC Adam Petty Memorial Fund-Sprint Pontiac 103 Running 18 24 4 Roger Blackstock/Shelby Twp MI Mopar Performance Dodge 102 Running 19 31 74 Karla Lampe/Carroll IA Carroll Refuse Chevrolet 102 Running 20 27 06 Dennis English/Benton KY Nancy English Racing Pontiac 97 Running 21 14 20 Todd Coon/E Peoria IL Mid City Truck Repair Chevrolet 96 Accident 22 26 6 Tim Mitchell/Fayetteville TN Nealco-Reid's Pontiac 88 Running 23 33 32 George Glick/Columbus OH Mark Stahl Racing Ford 84 Running 24 25 24 Chuck Weber/Mesquite TX Cardinal Tool Company Chevrolet 79 Accident 25 22 30 Mark Voigt/Marine IL Team Stealth Chevrolet 65 Accident 26 15 89 Dean Roper/Fair Grove MO Mueller Brothers Racing Pontiac 64 Accident 27 10 10 Curt Piercy/Normal IL GA Rich & Sons Mechanical Chevrolet 64 Accident 28 8 99 Ed Dixon/Washington MO Ken Schrader Racing Chevrolet 58 Accident 29 16 21 Todd Bowsher/Springfield OH Jack Bowsher Racing Ford 46 Accident 30 21 98 David Boggs/Rock Hill SC Power Alliance Pontiac 31 Accident 31 6 9 Eric Smith/Bloomington IL FamilyOne.com Ford 26 Engine 32 34 41 Rich Hayes/Springfield IL Fritz & Kristie Pfister-RE/MAX Pontiac 25 Engine 33 19 50 Andy Belmont/Penndel PA America Online-York Heating & AC Ford 20 Accident 34 35 38 Tom Eriksen/Hesston PA Eriksen Well Drilling Chevrolet 5 Accident 35 36 47 Jon Herb/Indianapolis IN WorldBestBuy.com Ford 5 Accident 36 29 75 Rick Tackman/New Berlin WI Press Masters-Dick's Westridge Ford 2 Engine

TALLADEGA POLE AWARD: Damon Lusk 33.708 (106.800 mph) MRGN OF VIC: .157 seconds CAUTIONS: 12 for 52 laps TIME OF RACE: 1:33:07 AVG SPEED: 67.012 mph LAP LEADERS: Kimmel 1-20, 78-104 (47); Steele 21-28 (8); Coon 29-32 (4); Baird 33-77 (45)

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Adam Petty , Ken Schrader , Shawna Robinson , Jon Herb , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Bobby Gerhart , Chuck Weber , Tim Mitchell , Tim Steele , Damon Lusk , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Todd Bowsher , James Hylton , Norm Benning , Brian Ross , Bill Baird