Rookie Coulter, Veteran Kimmel Welcome Mansfield Short Track MANSFIELD OH (6-17-09) - Here's a switch. When the ARCA RE/MAX Series lines up at Mansfield Motorsports Park for this Saturday's (June 20) inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA 200, ...
Rookie Coulter, Veteran Kimmel Welcome Mansfield Short Track
MANSFIELD OH (6-17-09) - Here's a switch. When the ARCA RE/MAX Series lines up at Mansfield Motorsports Park for this Saturday's (June 20) inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA 200, veteran Frank Kimmel will see the track for the first time. For a guy who's won nine series championships and 74 races all across the Midwest, that seems a bit odd; but that's the case for the Clarksville, Indiana stock car legend.
On the other hand, 18-year-old rookie Joey Coulter will be returning to familiar territory this weekend at Mansfield, which is an anomaly in itself. In fact, the majority of the tracks on tour are all new to Coulter, with the welcome exception of Mansfield.
"I've actually raced at Mansfield three times in the past," said "ICoulter. raced there once in 2007 and twice last year."
Not so much for Kimmel.
"Never seen the place before," said Kimmel. "It may take a little time to get used to, but anymore, our short track set-ups are very similar no matter where we're going.
"But anytime you've raced somewhere before, I think you have a little advantage. If you've raced there before, you know where the line is; it speeds up your testing.
"It may take a little while for me to figure out where I need to be on the track, but we've already been on the phone talking to people about gear ratios, so we're doing everything we can to get ahead of it."
Coulter, however, really doesn't feel that his previous experience at Mansfield gives him the edge in Saturday's show, which also features a 50-lap ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series race.
"It's not necessarily a hard track; it's just a short track," added Coulter. "It's a lot of fun to drive, but it's still just a short track. These guys (series veterans) have been driving these cars a lot longer; I don't really feel like I have an advantage over guys like Frank (Kimmel) just because I've driven there before and he hasn't. Frank's going to be good everywhere, whether he's raced there or not."
If Coulter is impressed with Kimmel's record, Kimmel seems to share an appreciation for Coulter's talent.
"I think Joey's done a really nice job this year," said Kimmel. "You can race around him all day; you don't have to worry about him running into you. He hasn't hit me yet; I can say that. But yeah, he's been very impressive, and I think very respectable of all the competitors."
Coulter, has also put together an impressive string of top-five and top-10 finishes in the last three events with a seventh place run at Toledo, a career-best fourth at Pocono and a fifth place finish last Friday at Michigan.
However, it didn't start out that way for Coulter, whose average finish in the first three races of the season was a dismal 23rd before breaking through with an eighth place run at Talladega to turn things around. "We never let ourselves get down," said Coulter. "We've had fast cars everywhere and have run good everywhere; we just didn't have the finishes to go with it. But we kept our heads up because we knew we were fast.
"We had 20 laps of practice at Pocono and pulled off a top-five; we were really happy about that. I can't wait to go back to Pocono. That place is so different than anywhere else I've been. You go down that long frontstretch, and it's like being at Talladega before you dive off into that big sweeping corner; you can really haul through there. You hang on for dear life in the tunnel turn - kind of like Salem, and then it's pretty flat in turn three; but you have to get through there good to be able to get back on the gas to get down the frontstretch."
Coulter was also on the gas at Michigan where the Miami Springs, Florida driver cranked out another top-five finish and moved to seventh in overall driver point standings.
"I can feel my confidence going up, which adds to my overall comfort level. I tend to beat myself up a lot, and I need to quit doing that. Fortunately, Harold (Holly/crew chief) has been very patient with me which definitely helps with my comfort level.
"The whole team's working very well together. My engineer Michael's been working with Harold a long time. My car chief Richie Harris has Nationwide and Cup experience. I get along with all of them, and they're all very patient with me, which, helps me more than anything, and helps me build my confidence.
"At Michigan, I felt like I didn't have to force the car to do things it didn't want to do; it worked wherever I needed it to. My guys are giving me awesome racecars."
So with his confidence on the rise, Coulter is heading back to familiar territory at Mansfield.
"When I heard that Mansfield was going on our schedule, I got really excited. It should be a really cool race. If there's one thing I learned there is that there's not a lot of room to race. It's like there's not even a full groove there - more like a half a groove. The asphalt's getting older and it's losing its grip. But once you get side-by-side with someone, you can run that way all the way around. You just need to be a little careful getting there. It's still hard to pass though.
"You may see a lot of bump and runs - get behind someone and put the pressure on that way. Either that or you have to wait for someone to mess up and be ready when they do. But if you're waiting for Frank to mess up, you're going to run out of time on that one."
And like Coulter, who is excited to go back to Mansfield, Kimmel is just excited to get back to some good old-fashioned short track racing.
"I'm definitely ready to get back on a short tracks," added Kimmel, who finished 12th at Michigan. "We're improving our performance everywhere, although we're not having the luck we need to go with our performance."
And if Kimmel is not yet familiar with the Mansfield short track, he is certainly familiar with his primary car he'll be racing in on the Ohio short track.
"We're taking 'The Don' to Mansfield. Chassis no. 37 will be our backup."
Kimmel won three races in The Don in 2008 - his hometown Salem Speedway and both mile-dirts at Springfield and DuQuoin.
"Biggest thing I think (for Mansfield) is getting the gear choice right. It takes so much time to change gears that you can use all your practice time just doing that, which puts you behind. So gear choice, I think, will be the most critical thing. We're already talking to some people about that, so we feel like we're out in front of this one."
Kimmel hopes to be 'out in front of this one' when the checkered flag falls on the Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA 200. Kimmel is just five wins away from Iggy Katona's all-time win mark of 79 victories.
The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the ARCA RE/MAX Series for the same-day double-header at Mansfield. Raceday features an action-packed day of activity with ARCA Truck practice from 1:30 to 2:30 followed by RE/MAX Series practice from 2:30 to 4:00. Qualifying for the Trucks is at 4:15 followed by RE/MAX Series qualifying (Menard Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell) at 5:00. The fan-friendly affair also features an on-track autograph session from 6:00 to 6:45. Racing gets underway at 7:00 with the 50-lap ARCA Lincoln Welders 50 Truck Series event followed by the grand finale - the Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 mile race, set for 8:30 PM.
ARCA Racing Network to Broadcast All Day at Mansfield @The ARCA Racing Network will be covering all the on-track activity for both the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series and the ARCA RE/MAX Series from Mansfield. Listen and watch live streaming audio and video of practice, qualifying and both races at ARCAracing.com inside the ARCA Nation.