Illinois State Fair pre-race notes

Kimmel Wants Unprecedented 5th Crowe 100 Win Defending Automobile Club of America RE/MAX Stock Car Series national champion Frank Kimmel of Jeffersonville, Indiana will be in search of a record breaking fifth Best Western-Allen Crowe Memorial...

Kimmel Wants Unprecedented 5th Crowe 100 Win

Defending Automobile Club of America RE/MAX Stock Car Series national champion Frank Kimmel of Jeffersonville, Indiana will be in search of a record breaking fifth Best Western-Allen Crowe Memorial 100 trophy when the ARCA stock cars invade the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday, August 21. In order to break the tie Kimmel currently has with Bob Keselowski and the late Dean Roper, Kimmel will have to best a field of wily veterans and hungry youngsters in the 43rd running of the Best Western-Allen Crowe 100. Approximately forty drivers are expected for the August 21st classic to compete for a total purse in excess of $100,000.

Kimmel, seeking an unprecedented 8th ARCA driving championship, wheels the Advance Auto Parts-Pork The Other White Meat Ford Taurus for Tri-State Motorsports, a team run by brother Bill. In the fifteen events on the 2005 ARCA RE/MAX schedule completed at press time, Kimmel has five wins and has never finished outside the top ten, giving him a 215 lead in the points.

Many of the top ten in the ARCA RE/MAX 2005 series point standings are expected to make the Springfield trip, including second place in the points Joey Miller of Lakeville, Minnesota, with three wins and thirteen top ten finishes this season. Miller has been closing the point gap on Kimmel and is now a threat to detrhone the defending ARCA RE/MAX champ. Other drivers in the top ten expected at the Illinois State Fairgrounds include Ken Weaver of Dallas, Texas (3rd), Chad McCumbee of Supply, North Carolina (4th), popular veteran Mark Gibson of Winder, Georgia (5th), Jason Jarrett, son of 1999 NASCAR champ Dale Jarrett (6th), Mike Harmon of Birmingport, Alabama (7th), Brandon Knupp of Sidney, Ohio (8th) and Todd Bowsher of Springfield Ohio (9th).

Gibson would love nothing better than to win on the Illinois dirt and this season is receiving assistance from Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated. McCumbee is driving for a familiar name to Springfield race fans, his owner is former USAC star Andy Hillenburg and McCumbee is famous himself, having portrayed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the ESPN move "3" based on the life of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Bowsher is the son of two-time Crowe 100 winner Jack Bowsher, while Harmon is a veteran of the NASCAR All-Pro and Busch series and now running full time in the ARCA division.

One driver in the top ten not expected at Springfield is Chad Blount, currently 3rd in the standings. His ML Motorsports team withdrew from the ARCA series after the 12th event.

Joining the top ten are ARCA drivers Norm Benning of Pittsburgh, veteran Darrell Basham of Indiana, Michigan's Bill Eversole, Pennsylvania modified veteran Andy Belmont, T.J. Bell from Nevada and young Josh Allison from Indiana.

One very popular Springfield Illinois driver leads what could be several local and area drivers contesting the Best Western-Crowe 100. Young Justin Allgaier, a veteran of ARCA RE/MAX and UMP late model competition, has been running with the ARCA and NASCAR Truck series in 2004. Allgaier has started up front in a few of the events he has run with the RE/MAX series in 2005, and in fact led part of the event at Milwaukee. Justin returns in the Hoosier Tire Midwest Pontiac for 2005, running with the number 2 instead of the traditional 86 on the side of his machine. Justin will be attempting to become the first driver since Al Unser in 1972 to win both the dirt car and stock car race at Springfield on the same weekend. Should Justin win the Best Western-Crowe 100, he would become the first Central Illinois driver in the history of the event to take home the first place trophy. Joining Allgaier from the city of Springfield is the surprise entry of local short track ace Kelly Kovski in the Roulo Brothers entry.

A second Illinois driver may also attempt both races, his schedule permitting. Galesburg's A.J. Fike has been running a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2005, and has reuinted for Springfield with owner Andy Hillenburg for a shot at the Illinois dirt. Fike won the pole at Springfield in the Hillenburg owned machine last year.

Southern Illinois' Joe Cooksey is a driver who also has a legitmate shot at winning the Allen Crowe Memorial race. Cooksey, who started the season without a full time ride, secured a full time ride in place of Ron Cox but has returned to part-time status. The thirty-nine year old Cooksey of downstate Centralia won the pole at DuQuoin in 2000 and has several top five runs on the dirt in the ARCA RE/MAX series.

A veteran from the neighboring state of Kentucky won the Best Western-Crowe 100 in 2004 and in the process became the oldest man ever to win a major auto race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Proving that old age and treachery can best youth and skill, fifty-five year old Bill Baird of Sturgis, Kentucky brought his lone Chevrolet out of mothballs to enter both Springfield and DuQuoin. Towing the car on a flatbed truck and borrowing pit help from Frank Kimmel, the former ARCA champ added a second Crowe Memorial trophy when he took the lead from Kimmel on lap 88 and held of the ARCA star for his second Springfield win. Baird is again shunning retirement to defend his title.

A second veteran competitor is rumored also to be coming out of retirement to race on the dirt as well. Mokena, Illinois driver Bob Strait was a tough competitor on the ARCA series for many years, setting on the pole at Springfield and winning once at DuQuoin. Talk abounds that Strait intends to compete in the two ARCA RE/MAX dirt events for 2005, driving for the Normal, Illinois based Hendren Racing Team. Also returning to the ARCA series is Doug Keller of St. Joseph, Missouri. Keller has not raced in some time, but has opted to return to the sport for the two races on the Illinois dirt.

An Illinois native who now resides in North Carolina could also be on the Springfield entry list, should his health permit. Second generation driver Billy Venturini, originally from Chicago, crashed heavily earlier in the year and was forced to miss several races due to a neck injury. Venturini, whose dad Bill is a former ARCA champ and former USAC Stock car driver, has been gradually working his way back to form and could be behind the wheel for the Crowe Memorial.

Illinois State Fairgrounds motorsports director and promoter Bob Sargent welcomes Best Western Hotels as corporate sponsor for the 43rd Crowe 100, the third time that sponsorship has been secured for this race. The Best Western-Allen Crowe 100 is one of the most unique races in the country, it is one of two events on one-mile fairground dirt tracks for full bodied stock cars and one of the few events in memory of a driver who was a local hero breaking into big time auto racing.

Allen Crowe was a local midget and stock car driver trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Springfield drivers Rex Easton and Chuck Weyant to race at the Indianapolis 500. After years of honing his skills on bullrings such as Springfield, Lincoln, Macon and Champaign Allen secured a championship car ride. By 1962, he made his first start in the Indianapolis 500, and returned in 1963. Sadly, a third start never happened, as Allen lost his life in a USAC Sprint Car accident at the New Bremen, Ohio speedway on June 21, 1963, less than a month after his second Indy start. Local leaders gathered after the tragedy and decided on a second memorial race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, christening the annual stock car event the "Allen Crowe Memorial". Some of the best stock car drivers in the world own a trophy from the Crowe Memorial, drivers such as USAC's Don White, A.J. Foyt, Roger McCluskey, Butch Hartman and Bay Darnell, and ARCA stars such as Bobby Jacks, Bob Brevak, Bob Hill and Billy Thomas. However, no one tasted success at Springfield like the late Dean Roper, who won seven of nine races during the 1980's, including four of the Crowe 100 events.

The tradition of the Best Western-Allen Crowe 100 returns to the Illinois State Fair on Sunday, August 21 with practice for the ARCA RE/MAX Series at 9 a.m., with pole qualifying slated for 11. In qualifying, drivers will be attempting to break Bob Hill's ten-year-old track record of 33.546, or 107.315 MPH. Nearly forty drivers are expected to take the green flag at 1:30 p.m. for the 43rd Best Western Crowe 100, with over $100,000 in prizes on the line as well as the 100-mile ARCA record of Bobby Bowsher who averaged 90 miles an hour for the distance in 1991. Tickets can be obtained at Ticketmaster, the Illinois State Fair Box office, or at Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200. Additional information can be found at or


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Series ARCA
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Josh Allison , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Chad Blount , T.J. Bell , Andy Hillenburg , Mike Harmon , Darrell Basham , Jason Jarrett , Billy Venturini , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Todd Bowsher , Norm Benning , Doug Keller , Ken Weaver , A.J. Fike , Joey Miller , Brandon Knupp , Chad McCumbee , Bill Baird , Al Unser