by Don Radebaugh GLADEVILLE, TENN, -- With a rare weekend off from the Winston Cup world, NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader opted for the ARCA RE/MAX Series in order to fulfill his racing fix. Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Pontiac, held...
by Don Radebaugh
GLADEVILLE, TENN, -- With a rare weekend off from the Winston Cup world, NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader opted for the ARCA RE/MAX Series in order to fulfill his racing fix.
Schrader, in his own Federated Auto Parts Pontiac, held off valiant, late-race charges from Frank Kimmel and Shawna Robinson to win the thrilling, inaugural PFG Lester ARCA 150 Friday afternoon at the new 1.33-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway.
Kimmel finished second in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford, trailing Schrader at the final stripe by less than a second with Robinson, in the Aaron's Ford, less than a length away in third. Team RE/MAX driver Rick Carelli, making his career-first ARCA start, charged from 15th to fourth in the final running order while BSR outside polesitter Mike Swaim Jr., in the Dynatek Chevrolet, finished fifth.
The victory, worth $18,695, was Schrader's eighth career RE/MAX Series win in his 22nd start. "It feels great," said Schrader in victory lane. "This car is an old Bud chassis we resurrected from my days running for Rick Hendrick. I really thought Frank Kimmel had the winning car today but he apparently developed a vibration there at the end, and Shawna Robinson had a great run too. I thought either of those two cars might pass us on that final restart, but I think Shawna was better on long runs, and just didn't have enough time to get there. I'll tell you, these guys in the ARCA RE/MAX Series are a bunch of fun to run with; it's never easy over here, and getting tougher all the time."
With just 13 laps remaining, Schrader's lead dwindled quickly after Robinson, having just out-dueled Carelli for second, closed within inches of the leader's rear bumper. But just as the Des Moines, Iowa native was about to make her move on the leader, the seventh and final caution came out for a turn-two wreck involving Stuart Kirby and Todd Bowsher. That set the stage for the final four-lap shootout to the finish, which would, in the end, work against Robinson who was unable to mount another charge in time. Instead, Robinson became more occupied trying to fend off Kimmel rather than chasing down the eventual winner. Kimmel eventually passed Robinson on the final lap and quickly closed in on Schrader, but ran out of time in his quest to become Nashville Superspeedway's first winner.
Twelve cars finished on the lead lap aided, in part, by seven cautions; the most serious of which included the cars of Billy Venturini and Bowsher, both of whom, in separate incidents, crashed in turn two. Although both machines were destroyed, neither driver was injured. In all, a half-dozen drivers were taken to the infield care center resulting from accidents where they were all treated and released.
But under green flag conditions, continual side-by-side racing was commonplace throughout the field and especially up front where there were eight lead changes among four drivers. Old Milwaukee Pole Award winner Kimmel led up through lap 33 before giving it up to Schrader who led lap 34. Schrader's lead was short-lived however when Kimmel, who would also win the Loctite Halfway Leader Award, raced back by to lead laps 35 through 52. Then Stanton Barrett, who hadn't raced in more than ten months, hustled his Riverside Environmental Disposal Ford to the front for 10 laps before Kimmel again regained the lead. Kimmel led the next 11 laps but had to make an unscheduled pit stop to remove a right-front spring rubber under caution, thus handing the lead back to Barrett. Back under green, Schrader passed Barrett and led 12 laps before Carelli took over for ten circuits. Schrader then took the lead back from Carelli on lap 101 and never relinquished it.
Jason Jarrett, who qualified fifth, was forced to change motors prior to the race, and, as a result, had to start dead last in the 38-car field. However, Jarrett, in the ML Motorsports Pontiac, raced his way to sixth in the final running order earning the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie Award while three-time RE/MAX Series champion Tim Steele, who started 19th in the HS Die-Softech Ford, finished seventh. Barrett finished eighth ahead of America Online driver Andy Belmont in ninth. Mike Harmon, who charged from the 29th starting position in the Komatsu-Pegasus Ford, finished tenth earning the Hoosier Performance Hard Charger Award.