Nashville: Race report

Kimmel makes music at Nashville. NASHVILLE, TN (4-12-02) by Don Radebaugh -- He played Nashville Superspeedway like a fine fiddle, although the reward was a Gibson guitar. Defending ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, almost as if he was...

Kimmel makes music at Nashville.

NASHVILLE, TN (4-12-02) by Don Radebaugh -- He played Nashville Superspeedway like a fine fiddle, although the reward was a Gibson guitar. Defending ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, almost as if he was playing with the competition, dominated the PFG Lester ARCA 150 Friday afternoon at Nashville Superspeedway.

Kimmel, restart after restart, charged to the front and pulled away from the pack throughout the 150-mile race leading 74 of the 113 laps total en route to his career 34th series victory. In addition to the winner's purse, Kimmel's awaiting trophy was a brand-new, electric Gibson guitar emblazoned with the speedway's logo against a checkerboard background alongside the words "2002 race winner". After a brief celebration and visit to the media center, Kimmel was off to Martinsville, Virginia to race in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Virginia 500.

"Yah, we're feeling pretty big right now, but believe me, when I get over there (Martinsville Speedway), they'll put me back in my place," said Kimmel. "But we'll enjoy the moment; this is a great race team, great sponsors with Advance Auto Parts and Pork. I'm proud of all the guys; my brother Bill (crew chief) worked up a perfect handle; our Joe Rhyne motor was untouchable. This crew, what can you say? They're the best in ARCA and it showed here today."

Although the race finished under caution after a Robert Burroughs crash in turn four late in the race, Kimmel, like he had been for most of the day, was leading at the time and soon coasted across the finish line with the checkered and yellow flag waving together confirming his well-deserved victory.

While Kimmel's win was no surprise, 21-year-old Arlington, Tennessee rookie Sammy Ragan, making his career-first RE/MAX Series start, continually turned heads throughout the race. Ragan, in his family-owned TDS Enterprises Pontiac, led 16 laps and finished second despite an incident during the race that bent up the left side of his car. "If I wouldn't of banged the car up I think we could have been all up in his (Kimmel) face," said Ragan. "But then again, you can't expect to beat a 3-time ARCA champion your first time out."

Equally impressive was Owensboro, Kentucky driver John Hayden who, in his career-first superspeedway start, steered the Premier Glass Pontiac to the finish in third. Former NFL head football coach Jerry Glanville equaled his career-best finish of fourth in his own Loctite-sponsored Ford. Local Mt. Juliet, Tennessee favorite Chase Montgomery gave the hometown fans a boost with a solid fifth place finish in his father Ray's unsponsored Chevrolet.

Included in Kimmel's $24,475 winner's purse was the Old Milwaukee Pole Award, his 22nd of his career, and the National Pork Board Pole-Win bonus worth $2,500. Kimmel also won the Loctite Halfway Leader award. Norm Benning picked up the Hoosier Tire Performance Hard Charger award for his 18th place finish after starting 33rd.Current point leader and rookie Chad Blount finished sixth in Todd Braun's unsponsored Dodge with Damon Lusk trailing in seventh in Steve Palac's Dynatek-One Race America Chevrolet. Jason Rudd, nephew of Winston Cup veteran Ricky Rudd, finished a respectable 8th in his career-first start aboard the Graybar Electric Dodge while 16-year-old Shelby Howard posted another solid run finishing 9th in the Chevrolet. Ron Cox, who started 24th, finished tenth in the Wayne Hixson-owned Pontiac. Garfield, Minnesota driver Rick Thoennes finished 11th, the last car on the lead lap.

Additional lap leaders included Oxford, UK driver Michael Vergers who led 8 laps, Lusk who led eight circuits and Burroughs who led seven. Burroughs raced among the top-five all day before bouncing off the wall just four laps from the finish bringing out the final caution, one of 10 throughout the race. In all, there were nine lead changes among five drivers.

Top-10 ARCA RE/MAX Series points after Nashville
1) Chad Blount 680
2) Damon Lusk 640
3) Frank Kimmel 560
4) Shelby Howard 470
5) Ron Cox 460
6) Todd Bowsher 430
7) Jason Jarrett 420
8) Chase Montgomery 415
9) Robert Burroughs 405
9) Billy Venturini 405


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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Chad Blount , Robert Burroughs , Michael Vergers , Chase Montgomery , Jason Jarrett , Rick Thoennes , Shelby Howard , Billy Venturini , Damon Lusk , Ron Cox , Todd Bowsher , Norm Benning , John Hayden , Jason Rudd