Notes from the 50th Federated-Southern Illinois 100 ARCA race at DuQuoin. As hot as Sunday was for the Silver Crown race, Monday (Labor Day) seemed even worse. The only thing to temper the heat was a nice breeze rolling through the grounds. To...
Notes from the 50th Federated-Southern Illinois 100 ARCA race at DuQuoin.
As hot as Sunday was for the Silver Crown race, Monday (Labor Day) seemed even worse. The only thing to temper the heat was a nice breeze rolling through the grounds. To counter the heat and the drought, promoter Bob Sargent and the track crew heavily watered the surface. It caused a slight delay getting the track ready resulting in the modified race being run after the Federated 100, but the racetrack remarkably was even better Monday than it was Sunday.
Frank Kimmel is on a roll on the dirt, a surface he wasn't real comfortable with in the past. Over the years, Kimmel has gotten better and better on the dirt, and has won the last four ARCA events on the two dirt tracks.
Kimmel pulled a page from the late Dean Roper's handbook Sunday, he pitted on the first yellow for fuel, then ran the rest of the distance holding off all challengers. Roper used the same strategy for many of his fourteen wins on the three dirt miles in the Midwest, eight with ARCA alone.
In winning the Federated 100 Sunday, Kimmel became the first back-to-back winner of the event since Billy Thomas in 1997 and 1998, and only the seventh back-to-back winner in DuQuoin stock car history. His win in a Ford broke a 25 year long General Motors win streak at DuQuoin, and gave Larry Clement his fourth win at DuQuoin as a car owner.
Kimmel is only one of nine men to sweep the stock car races on the two Illinois miles, and has done it twice, in 2001 and this year. Paul Goldsmith was the first in 1962, followed by Don White in 1966, Norm Nelson in 1970, Butch Hartman in 1975, Roper in 1981, 1983 and 1986, Bob Keselowski in 1988 and 1989 and Bob Brevak in 1990.
If Kimmel can ever post a win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, he would become a member of a select group of Hall of Fame racers who have won on the 3 Midwestern dirt miles.
DuQuoin drew a huge crowd last year for the Federated-Southern Illinois 100, and nearly as many people this year. People came out in part to see the NASCAR gentry of Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart and owner/driver Andy Petree once again.
Promoter Bob Sargent, his staff and many fans were sweating it out Sunday. Rain at Darlington forced delays in the Southern 500, and it appeared for a time that the Southern 500 would be run Monday, forcing the absence of Petree, Schrader and Stewart at DuQuoin.
Stewart, who broke the track record last year, shaved six tenths off of it this year in one of Petree's Monaco-Square D Chevrolets, and looked like a sure winner. He pitted on the second caution, but collided with Ron Cox going out of the pits, caving in the right front fender. An additional stop pulled the fender out, and Tony made passing look easy. He was clearly faster than Kimmel at the end, but could never get far enough alongside to root Kimmel out of the groove. Stewart wants pretty badly to join some select company, the Hall of Fame list of racers who have won 100-mile races on the mile dirt tracks.
Schrader is already on that list, but was frustrated once again in his attempt to conquer the DuQuoin "Magic Mile". It is the only Midwest mile he hasn't won on, and the one on which he made his USAC Stock Car debut in 1979. It is also the one closest to his native Fenton, Missouri home. Ken was clearly the fan favorite, but his Pontiac never had the speed of the front-runners. He did tangle with a car during the race caving in the left front fender, but managed a third place finish.
Petree had a much more disappointing day Monday than in 2001. He qualified nineteenth, but moved up very quickly. Andy was the second caution of the day, spinning and hitting the turn four wall. He later dropped out with overheating.
Seventy-one year old Red Farmer received quite a nice reception at DuQuoin from the fans Monday, and he rewarded them with quite a show. The legend qualified third, went to the cushion at the start, and despite bouncing off the back chute wall and bending the rear end, was one of the faster cars on the track. Red finished fourth and said afterwards he'd had a "ball"!
Farmer nearly had more than a ball on Labor Day. He spun in front of the field on the main chute on lap 34, and fortunately got hit by no one.
Southern Illinois (Centralia) native Joe Cooksey is the only driver ever to qualify for the pole at DuQuoin, and he won over a lot of fans with a fifth place finish at the end. Southern Illinois fans took a lot of pride in Joe's showing, and before the race there was a sign on Route 51 heading out of Centralia wishing him good luck.
At 71, Farmer became the oldest man ever to compete in the stock car race (or any auto race for that matter) at DuQuoin. Monday, sixteen-year-old Justin Allgaier of Springfield became the youngest. Driving for Ken Schrader in his second dirt contest on the ARCA circuit, the young man ran very well and finished 11th.
Other Illinois drivers had only a so-so day. Carlyle's Charlie Schaefer spun and hit the wall in qualifying, while Eric Smith qualified sixth, but ended the day with overheating problems. Mokena's Bob Strait, strong early on, ended up in the wall after halfway and limped the car around on two flat tires to the pit area. Peoria's Todd Coon ran mid pack until an incident with Doug Keller put him into the turn three wall.
Keller, strong at Springfield two weeks ago, was strong again Monday. However, a couple of spins and some wall contact left the number 7 Pontiac with quite a bit of damage. Good work by the pit crew left him on the lead lap in sixth.
Several drivers had a lot of trouble Sunday. Chad Blount, after crashing at Winchester Saturday night, had an engine let go on lap 69. Brad Smith spun twice, but the most serious accident came when Bill Baird spun and backed into the turn four wall on lap 96. While sitting there he was hit by Norm Benning in the left front, both got out of their cars OK.
Four-time Federated-Southern Illinois 100 winner Billy Thomas also had a tough day. The Joe Miller Chevy ran well early on, but developed an oil leak and dropped by the wayside. Former winner Bob Hill set the Roulo car in ninth, but mud clogged the radiator and he was out on lap 62.
A few guys had decent days as well, young Shelby Howard salvaged a 10th on the dirt, while Tom Eriksen spun in qualifying, took a provisional, and came from 35th to seventh at the end.
National TV in the form of SpeedChannel returned to DuQuoin for the first time in 23 years.
Rumors are that several other NASCAR drivers have an interest in running on the dirt at DuQuoin. Bill Elliot is rumored to be very interested in dirt track racing following an appearance at Schrader's I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri, and Michael Waltrip has expressed and interest in running one of the ARCA dirt events as well. One would think that former Silver Crown shoes Ryan Newman, John Andretti and Kasey Kahne might also be interested in a return to DuQuoin, as well as perhaps one Jeff Gordon.
Hometown driver Brian Winters of DuQuoin, believed to be the first hometown shoe to enter the Federated-Southern Illinois 100, had a good day in qualifying, but was overcome by the heat and needed assistance from medical personnel. Andy Belmont finished the race, Winters was credited with 19th.
While the State of Illinois has done a wonderful job remodeling the racetrack and grandstands, one area needs major attention-the pit area. The pit area is still dirt, and needs badly to be paved and re-done. Word is that ARCA would probably race at DuQuoin at night in a second summer event if the pit area were paved. One might imagine that with the NASCAR interest in DuQuoin, a Truck race might not be out of the question.