Kimmel Overcomes Challenges to Record Top-10 Finish at Salem; Moves up to Fourth Place in Championship Standings SALEM, Ind. (April 5, 2009) -- After surviving a challenging day at Salem Speedway, which included an unscheduled trip down pit road...
Kimmel Overcomes Challenges to Record Top-10 Finish at Salem; Moves up to Fourth Place in Championship Standings
SALEM, Ind. (April 5, 2009) -- After surviving a challenging day at Salem Speedway, which included an unscheduled trip down pit road prior to taking the green flag, an on track incident and a pit road penalty, Frank Kimmel brought the Ansell/Menards Ford Fusion home with a solid 7th place finish in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 presented by Federated Car Care.
"We definitely had the odds stacked against us today," said Kimmel after the 200-lap event. "The car was really good -- really fast during the first half, but the front end damage from that wreck at halfway really hurt the handling. I was tight in and out of the corners and when you can't get through the corners here it's really hard to run consistently fast laps."
After turning in an 11th place effort in Menards Pole Qualifying Presented by Ansell Gloves, the race day action started prior to the green flag for Frank Kimmel, as he made a trip down pit road to remove equipment from the No. 44 Ford Fusion. An air tank had been left on the floor board forcing Kimmel to come down pit road and start the event at the tail end of the longest line. Kimmel took the green flag in 28th place, but within 10 laps Kimmel was knocking on the door of the top-10 pack of cars.
By lap 15, Kimmel was up to 14th place and battling hard for every position, every lap. When the caution flag flew on lap 17, Kimmel was scored in the 13th position. Upon restarting the race, Kimmel used his signature high line pass to claim a spot in the top-10 by lap 25. Another caution flag allowed the field to close up and gave Kimmel a chance to gain another position on the restart. Holding strong in ninth place, Kimmel's lap times were quicker than the competitors immediately in front of him making for an exciting battle.
When Kimmel made the pass for eighth place on lap 32, Crew Chief Bill Kimmel radioed to his driver that he was faster than the leader.
"Your lap times are consistently as good, if not better, than the leaders," said Bill Kimmel. "We can come down and work on the car next caution but I think you're really making good time on the top-five."
Despite reporting what felt like a tire going flat, Kimmel continued to record fast laps while passing another car for the seventh position on lap 43. Closing in on lap 50, Kimmel made the pass for sixth place. And finally, on lap 58, the driver of the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford fought his way into the top five by passing NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader. Everything was looking up in the Kimmel Racing pit area.
On lap 63, the caution flew once again just as Kimmel was making the move for fourth place. Bill Kimmel called his driver down pit road for a four tire, fuel and adjustment stop which cost the team eight spots on pit road and set the tone for an action packed restart.
Upon taking the green flag, the front of the field checked up resulting in a multi-car pileup on lap 71. Happening directly in front of Kimmel, it left the No. 44 car with severe front end damage.
"The hood is shoved up and I can't really see out of the windshield," radioed Kimmel to his crew.
The Kimmel Racing over-the-wall crew worked to repair the damage and Kimmel restarted the race in 17th place on lap 74.
The caution flew one lap later and gave Kimmel another opportunity to showcase his driving skills as he narrowly avoided another wreck. Being scored in the 13th position, Kimmel would be forced to endure the second half of the race with minor body damage and a slightly pushed up hood obstructing his vision.
By lap 84, Kimmel had wheeled his Ford back into the top-10. Even with body damage, Kimmel maintained lap times as fast as the leaders. Continuing to use his favored highline, Kimmel worked his way past Schrader for a second time and was back up to sixth place by lap 98. Two laps later, he was inside the top-five again -- knocking on the door for win number 10 at Salem Speedway
Despite an increasing tight racecar, Kimmel was up to a race-high third place and continued the battle towards the lead. When the caution flew again five laps later, Kimmel and crew chief Bill Kimmel discussed the strategy under caution.
"With our lap times how they are now, we're probably going to finish 6th or 7th," said Bill Kimmel. "So let's come down pit road and work on it. We don't have anything to lose and this could be our only chance to have something for the leaders."
Kimmel came down pit road on lap 126 for four tires and a track bar adjustment. Another setback came in the form of a pit road speeding penalty that sent Kimmel to the end of the longest line for the restart of the race.
Kimmel lined up in the 12th spot and began the long charge back to the front pack of cars. He was back up to 10th place by lap 130. While Kimmel managed to move up three spots to 7th place by lap 150, the leaders lightening fast lap times caused the No. 44 car to go a lap down on lap 170.
Kimmel rode out the final 30 laps of the event, holding on to an ill handling racecar and doing his best to see through the rain that began to steadily fall on the track with 20 to go.
Ultimately, the No. 44 team came home in 7th place. The top-10 effort moved Kimmel up fourth place in ARCA RE/MAX driver's standings.
"Overall, it was a decent day," said Kimmel. "Not exactly what you hope for when you come to your hometown track, but the bright spot is that it was our first top-10 for Ansell and Menards so that's still something to hang our hats on today."
Kimmel Racing has a week off before heading to Rockingham Speedway for race number three on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule.