Steele too strong for Kentucky contenders

Sparta KY, 7-2-00 - Tim Steele’s margin of victory wasn’t much over the hard-charging Bob Strait, but it was good enough to be the inaugural winner of the Kentucky ARCA 150 Sunday night under the lights at Kentucky Speedway. Steele, in his...

Sparta KY, 7-2-00 - Tim Steele’s margin of victory wasn’t much over the hard-charging Bob Strait, but it was good enough to be the inaugural winner of the Kentucky ARCA 150 Sunday night under the lights at Kentucky Speedway.

Steele, in his father Harold’s familiar #16 HS Die-Softech Ford, held off Strait by less than a second at the new 1.5-mile superspeedway before 28,000 people, a record crowd for an ARCA stand-alone event while posting his 22nd ARCA superspeedway triumph.

“This is the greatest thing winning here in Kentucky,” said the three-time ARCA champion in victory lane. “Today it was all about tire management. You just couldn’t lean on them the way you wanted to so you had to protect them. The guys that managed their tires the best are the guys that finished up front. It’s as simple as that. We sure appreciate all the great staff here at Kentucky Speedway. Anyone thinking about building a superspeedway needs to come here and see how it’s done. This place is beautiful and we’re sure proud to be the first ARCA winner here. I want to thank my crew chief Tom Sokoloski and all my guys on the crew. They were perfect all weekend and it showed big-time today.”

Strait, in Mark Thompson’s Midway Islands Ford, maintained the point lead with a second place finish while Mark Gibson, in the PSEG Chevrolet, moved up the point ladder with a third place run in front of Dan Pardus who battled back from an early-race spin to finish fourth in Jim Gardner’s Chevy. Ron Cox, the ’99 Prestone ARCA Rookie of the Year, won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award for hustling from the 33rd starting position to fifth in the final running order in Wayne Hixson’s Chevy, a career-best superspeedway finish for the Soddy Daisy, Tennessee driver.

Owensboro, Kentucky native and 2000 Daytona ARCA 200 winner David Keith established a new one-lap track record of 175.262 mph in the Sadler’s Brothers Shoney’s Inn Ford and led the first 13 laps from the pole before Steele took charge on lap 14. The Coopersville, Michigan driver led up through lap 20 before the first of five cautions sent the leaders down pit road for service. Through the course of the first caution period, Andy Belmont stayed out long enough to lead a lap before Pardus, electing to forego the stop, assumed the lead. Back under green Steele, with four fresh tires, quickly overhauled Pardus and stretched his advantage to five lengths before the pace would be slowed by another caution. Both Matt Hutter and Strait took their turns up front during pit stop exchanges but it was Steele who continuously worked his way back into the lead throughout the 150-mile event. In all, Steele led 63 circuits of the 100-lap race bringing his career superspeedway lap-leader total to a record 3,058 laps led in 41 races. Pardus won the Auto Value Halfway Leader Award for racing back into the lead in time to lead at the halfway marker. Keith eventually retired with suspension problems while Hutter’s day ended against the turn-two wall on badly blistered tires. Hutter was not injured.

Frank Kimmel finished 6th in Larry Clement’s Advance Auto Parts Chevy, the first car a lap down while AJ Alsup, in only his second ARCA start, steered his Track Scan Chevy home in seventh in front of Mike Swaim Jr’s Xlerator Pontiac in eighth with Cavin Councilor in his own Target Saws & Blades-Earthlink Chevy next up in ninth. Former NASCAR Winston West winner Rich Woodland, who was BSR’s 2nd Round Fastest Qualifier, finished 10th.

The ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will shift gears in time to go short-track racing at Berlin Raceway on Saturday, July 8 before it returns to the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle for the Pepsi ARCA 200 Saturday, July 22.

CURRENT TOP-10 ARCA POINTS: Bob Strait 2485, Frank Kimmel 2385, Tim Steele 2220, Brian Ross 2200, Andy Belmont 2175, Shawna Robinson 2090, Bobby Gerhart 2085, Mark Gibson 2065, Norm Benning 2040, Cavin Councilor 1835.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Shawna Robinson , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Rich Woodland , Bobby Gerhart , Tim Steele , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Norm Benning , Mark Thompson