Blount swipes Kimmel's Kentucky crown. SPARTA KY (7-12-02) by Don Radebaugh - Frank Kimmel's three-in-a-row win streak at Kentucky Speedway came to an end Friday night compliments of 22-year-old Walkerton, Indiana rookie Chad Blount who used pit...
Blount swipes Kimmel's Kentucky crown.
SPARTA KY (7-12-02) by Don Radebaugh - Frank Kimmel's three-in-a-row win streak at Kentucky Speedway came to an end Friday night compliments of 22-year-old Walkerton, Indiana rookie Chad Blount who used pit strategy and patience to win the Blue Grass Quality Meats 200.
Blount pitted just twice to Kimmel's three en route to his second ARCA RE/MAX Series victory in his 19th attempt.
With less than 20 laps remaining in the 134-lap, 200-mile race, Kimmel, under caution, forfeited the lead and headed for pit road for tires and fuel while Blount stayed out. From there, Blount, who had last pitted on lap 70, stretched his fuel mileage and held off a hard-charging Kimmel in the end for the win.
"I can't thank my crew enough," said Blount in victory lane. "My car owner Todd Braun made the call to stay out. I was unsure if we had enough (fuel) to go all the way, but we were great on restarts all night. Our car was actually best in the last 20 laps and especially good on longer runs. The more we raced on the Hoosiers, the better they got; so I knew if we could stretch the fuel, we'd be good to go. I'm glad Todd made the call. It's why we won the race. I was a nervous wreck when I saw Kimmel in the rear view mirror."
Blount, in Braun's unsponsored Dodge Intrepid, hovered in the top-five all night before moving into third behind race leader Kimmel and El Cajon, California driver Austin Cameron as the race neared its conclusion. Then Randy VanZant spun through the grass in the tri-oval bringing out the caution on lap 109. Both Kimmel and Cameron came down pit road for service while Blount inherited the lead. Back under green, Kimmel quickly charged into second and set his sights on Blount. With less than ten laps remaining, Andy Belmont, who was running in the top-five, made contact with the wall in turn four after spinning in Chase Montgomery's oil whose engine had just expired. That set the stage for the thrilling three-lap shootout to the end in which Blount fought off Kimmel long enough to race under the checkered flag as winner. Kimmel, who had otherwise completely dominated the night with 106 laps-led, had to settle for a disappointing second a couple lengths away.
"It was disappointing today," said Kimmel. "We pretty much had the dominant car all night. When you're playing a points race, you can't take chances on fuel. We had both scuffed and sticker tires in the pits and I said go with the stickers. I thought we'd work into them but the tires kept the car too tight. I had an opportunity there at the very end to get him (Blount) and I messed up -- spinning my tires on the restart. I want to congratulate Chad and his team; they did a real nice job tonight."
Cameron, in the TWC Motorsport Chevrolet, finished a close third.
"We had a great car," said Cameron. "We put two brand new right-side tires on and we needed about 15 more laps on them. If I had to do it all again, I would have put four scuffed ones on but I didn't have them."
Jason Jarrett wheeled the ML Motorsports Chevy to the finish in fourth ahead of Winder, Georgia veteran Mark Gibson who finished fifth in the Williams Brothers Lumber Ford. Former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville finished sixth, the last car on the lead lap. Glanville, who started 33rd in his own Loctite-Fricker's Ford, also picked up the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions.
Blount's winning average speed of 121.348 mph also established a new race record surpassing the old mark of 120.060 mph set by Kimmel in 2001. In addition, Blount won the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie honors while Kimmel picked up the Loctite Halfway Leader award.
In all, there were seven cautions for 27 laps for minor incidents while the lead changed hands four times among three drivers. Belmont, who was never out of the top-five all night, was the only other driver who led before his unfortunate incident ended his stellar run ten laps shy of the finish. As a consolation, Belmont, in his own Odoban Grease Control Ford, was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award.
Aurora, Colorado driver John Metcalf, in the RE/MAX International Chevy, finished seventh with Bowling Green, Kentucky rookie Deborah Renshaw, making her career-first RE/MAX Series start, finishing a respectable eighth in Bob Schacht's unsponsored Ford Taurus. 16 year-old Shelby Howard steered the iHigh.com Chevy to the finish in ninth in front of Walton, Kentucky local favorite Willie Green who finished tenth in the Gary Keller Racing Ford.
CURRENT ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS AFTER KENTUCKY: 1) Frank Kimmel 3060; 2) Chad Blount 2930; 3) Damon Lusk 2765; 4) Jason Jarrett 2575; 5) Chase Montgomery 2395; 6) Andy Belmont 2390; 7) Billy Venturini 2385; 8) Shelby Howard 2360; 9) Mark Gibson 2295; 10) Norm Benning 2125.