Winchester is King Kimmel's Golden Place; reigns in GoldenPalace.com 200 WINCHESTER IN (8-31-02) ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel survived war-torn Winchester and persistent pressure from several eager, young rookies to win the...
Winchester is King Kimmel's Golden Place; reigns in GoldenPalace.com 200
WINCHESTER IN (8-31-02) ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel survived war-torn Winchester and persistent pressure from several eager, young rookies to win the hard-fought GoldenPalace.com 200 Saturday night under the lights at Winchester Speedway.
Everything appeared to go as planned for Kimmel who managed to keep his Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford up front most of the way, and as a result, out of harms way to earn his 41st career RE/MAX Series victory and eighth of the season. The win places Kimmel in a tie with Tim Steele for third on the all-time ARCA win list behind ARCA champions/legends Iggy Katona and Jack Bowsher.
"The car was perfect right off the trailer and stayed that way all night," said Kimmel in victory lane. "We never adjusted it; we didn't need to. We had great pit stops tonight, all routine for fuel and tires; the rest was up to me. It was a busy night out there; we had to dodge the wrecks all night. Thankfully, everything worked out for us."
Things also worked out very well for 17-year-old rookie Shelby Howard who, not only led 18 laps near the latter stages of the race, but also finished a career-best second in the Mack Trucks Chevrolet. In addition, Howard was the only other car that managed to finish on the lead-lap with Kimmel.
"I don't think we had anything for Frank (Kimmel) but I think we ran as good as could have been expected," said Howard after the race. "I've always had good luck at this track; it's always been one of my favorites. We were fortunate to avoid the wrecks and come out with a good finish. It could have been a lot worse."
Lovejoy, Georgia rookie Doug Stevens, in only his third RE/MAX Series start and first-ever at Winchester, made quite an impression in the Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford finishing a respectable third in front of Winder, Georgia veteran Mark Gibson who steered the Williams Brothers Lumber Ford to the finish in fourth. Randy VanZant, in the Devers Truck Bodies Pontiac, survived a bump from behind resulting in a meeting with the backstretch wall to finish a solid fifth.
Outside of Kimmel, who dominated with 166 laps-led, and Howard's trick up front, Chad Blount and Jason Jarrett were the only other lap leaders throughout the grueling 200-lap grind. And while Jarrett, who was leading at the time, fell out with a broken rear-end gear, outside polesitter Blount, on the heels of Kimmel, got caught up in one of several wrecks throughout the caution-filled thrill show. The same wreck, triggered when the lapped car of Sterling Heights, Michigan driver Claude Plante spun in turn four, also took out Billy Venturini who had been running fourth after qualifying third. Blount, with a badly-damaged car, would later return to competition and eventually soldiered home 17th. Mt. Juliet, Tennessee rookie Chase Montgomery, who was never out of the top four, managed to miss the wreck that all but eliminated Blount and Venturini only to fall pray to another just past the halfway point. Montgomery, who was having another career night, was pressuring Kimmel for the lead when the two front-runners encountered the lapped car of Brian Winters on the backstretch. With Winters right in the groove, Kimmel went low while Montgomery went high for the lead. As the trio entered turn three, Winters made contact with Montgomery's machine sending Montgomery hard into the wall. Montgomery's badly-destroyed machine bounced off and slid down the main straightaway in a shower of sparks coming to a halt near the start-finish line. Montgomery, unhurt, climbed out and was through for night. Andy Belmont, who qualified fourth in the Odoban Grease Control Ford, was a factor until a right front tire went down sending the Penndel, Pennsylvania veteran bouncing off the turn four wall. Belmont returned to competition only to suffer the same fate twice more. In all, there were 10 cautions for a variety of spins and wrecks resulting in plenty of beat and battered cars, however there were no injuries.
Mike Buckley, in the Midwest Mall Fronts Chevrolet, finished a solid sixth ahead of Ron Cox who finished seventh in the Buffalo Wild Wings Chevrolet. Second-generation driver Todd Bowsher survived a couple of wall-bangers to finish a respectable eighth in the GFS Marketplace Ford with Norm Benning trailing in ninth in his own Benning Motorsports Chevrolet. John Sadinsky, in only a hand-full of starts, recovered nicely from an earlier pile-up to finish a career-best tenth in the Talon Performance Products Chevrolet.
In addition to Kimmel's first-place prize money, the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver won the Old Milwaukee Pole award, his 5th of the season, and picked up the National Pork Board Pole-Win bonus for winning from the pole. Kimmel also won the Loctite Halfway Leader award. Mesquite, Texas driver Chuck Weber earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for his 13th place finish after starting 28th while Montgomery was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award.