Steele's Glory is Kimmel's Pocono Pain LONG POND PA, by Don Radebaugh - When it comes to Pocono, Tim Steele will find a way to win. Steele, in his own HS Die-Softech Ford, capitalized on quick pit service, and then tracked down Blaise...
Steele's Glory is Kimmel's Pocono Pain
LONG POND PA, by Don Radebaugh - When it comes to Pocono, Tim Steele will find a way to win. Steele, in his own HS Die-Softech Ford, capitalized on quick pit service, and then tracked down Blaise Alexander in the final laps to win the Pepsi ARCA 200 Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. It was Steele's ninth ARCA RE/MAX Series win on the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle and 40th career triumph overall.
"Winning this race means everything," Steele said. "Pocono is one of my all-time favorite tracks. To go fast here, you just about have to scare yourself every lap to hold your line. It's just one of those places; I love racing here." In addition to chalking up his 24th superspeedway victory, the win for Steele represented his first as a car owner. "We recently bought the team from my dad (Harold Steele); we sat out two races to regroup and get ourselves prepared for what we knew was going to be a difficult situation. So to come here and win is very satisfying. There's no problems between me and my dad; it was strictly a business decision. I want to congratulate my crew; they were awesome today, especially my long-time crew chief Tom Sokoloski. Through all the ups and downs, and everything else, Tom's been the one constant in our program through the years. He's a big chunk of our success."
And if the victory lane glory was all Steele's, the Pocono pain belonged to point leader Frank Kimmel. Kimmel, who led the most laps by an overwhelming majority, lost the lead near the end after a lengthy green flag pit stop cost the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver too much time on pit road. And while Kimmel's crew struggled during the last stop, Steele's Coopersville, Michigan-based crew excelled enough to get the eventual winner out in front of Kimmel, and within 20 lengths of new race leader Alexander, who beat Steele off pit road. Steele, with fresh tires and a perfectly adjusted car, quickly erased Alexander's advantage, made the winning pass at the start-finish line with ten laps remaining and, in the end, pulled away by nearly three seconds. Alexander finished second in the Middleswarth Potato Chips-Lisa Express Pontiac while Kimmel, after leading 61 of 80 laps, had to settle for a disappointing third. "We had a problem with the jack on that last pit stop," Kimmel said. "Those things are gunna happen. That's all part of racing. Before that though, the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford was kind of dominant."
Mike Swaim, Jr finished fourth in the Dynatek Communications Chevrolet with Laurel, Mississippi driver Robert Burroughs trailing in fifth. It was Burroughs' fifth top-five finish in 11 starts this year on tour. Tracy Leslie, in the Target Saws & Blades Chevrolet, charged from last to a sixth place finish earning the Thermo-Tec Cool Drive award while Damon Lusk passed Jason Jarrett on the final lap for seventh. Jarrett, in the Biomet-Damon RV Pontiac, finished eighth winning the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie award for the second consecutive week. Rookie Dion Ciccarelli recorded his career-best finish in ninth in Rich Williams' Ford Taurus, one lap down while Mooresville, North Carolina driver AJ Henriksen finished tenth in the Fastenal-Engineered Components Ford.
Rookie Stuart Kirby won the Old Milwaukee Pole Award in Bob Schacht's Boy Scouts of America Ford, his second pole award at Pocono in as many attempts, but fell out with clutch failure after 44 laps completed. Soddy Daisy, Tennessee driver Ron Cox won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions throughout the race, from 31st to 14th in the final running order as well as the Hawk Best Brake of the Race for battling back from an early-race spin. Outside polesitter Kimmel won the Loctite Halfway Leader award while Steele picked up the Quarter Master Comin' Thru in the Clutch honors.
Two cautions, one for a Jason Hedlesky accident, and another for debris, slowed the race for nine laps while green flag racing was the norm for the majority of the afternoon. Hedlesky, in Junie Donlavey's Hills Brothers Coffee Ford, was not injured and picked up the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award as a consolation.