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Jun 28, 2013 - 03:18 PM
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Kimmel Back On Familiar Ground At Winchester
Posted by: newsla on Jun 28, 2013 - 03:16 PM
NASCAR News
Kimmel Back On Familiar Ground At Winchester


As happy as Frank Kimmel was to get through his first road race at Wisconsin's Road America with a top-10 finish, he's ecstatic heading to the Winchester (Ind.) Speedway short track, site of Sunday's Herr's Chase the Taste 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race, with his No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota.

 

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Kimmel has a series-best five ARCA Racing Series victories at the rough, high-banked half-mile legend of a speedway, with two pole positions in 15 career starts for good measure.

How well do the short tracks suit Kimmel's driving history and driving talent? In the case of Kimmel and Winchester -- much like Salem and Toledo, two short tracks with deep ARCA legacies -- the numbers say "plenty."

In his first six starts at Winchester, Kimmel scored six consecutive top-five finishes. In all, with ARCA's stops at Winchester coming sporadically through the years, Kimmel has 11 top-five finishes in 15 starts, with 13 of them top 10s. Kimmel's third Winchester victory came from the pole and he won three consecutive ARCA races at the unique venue -- in 2002-2003 and then three years later for the series' next visit, in 2006.

So when Kimmel takes his ThorSport Racing Camry to the green flag for Sunday afternoon's 200-lap, 100-mile test he'll have good reason to be optimistic.

"I'm so looking forward to it, because our short-track program has been really good," Kimmel said. "I'm sure Jeriod (Prince, crew chief) and Rich (Lushes, car chief) are going to bring a car to Winchester that's going to be really hard to beat.

"We haven't won at Winchester since 2006, but we haven't finished worse than sixth on a short track this season, and that's the first step you have to make if you want to win one of these races, is to run near the front. And these ThorSport guys have enabled me to do that."

Kimmel goes to Winchester, a short ride from his Borden, Ind., home with 78 career ARCA victories, which remains one shy of Michigan native Iggy Katona's record 79 wins.

Kimmel has already won an ARCA short-track race this season, at Elko (Minn.) Speedway, the series' shortest track. The biggest plus for Kimmel is, with nine consecutive top-10 finishes this season and 19 consecutive top 10s over the past two seasons with ThorSport, is that he's expanded his championship lead to 115 points over 18-year-old Tennessean Mason Mingus. Mingus also has nine top 10s this season but has yet to win while Kimmel's been to Victory Lane twice.

Mingus did finish sixth last season at Winchester, the best of any of the 24 entered drivers. But Mingus, fellow teenager Kyle Benjamin in Venturini Motorsports' No. 15 and youngsters Tom Hessert, who won earlier this season at Salem after moving Kimmel out of his way, Justin Boston, Kyle Weatherman and Frank Kimmel's nephew Will Kimmel, will all be tough.

"That's the way it is every week in ARCA," Kimmel said. "We've got to come out of the trailer running quick, and I have confidence we will. These kids that are at the front of the series don't make it easy on anyone, so we've got to have our stuff together."

Kimmel had that at Winchester in 2012 but circumstances -- specifically flat tires -- didn't work in the team's favor and on account, Kimmel had one of only three, sub-top-10 finishes of his career there.

"Last year our car was awesome at Winchester," Kimmel said. "We were fastest in practice and had a real good car in the race. We had a flat tire and went a lap down from that, but we unlapped ourselves under green one time, so this year if we can avoid the problems and stay out of trouble and not have flats, I think they're gonna have to deal with us."

Kimmel finished 11th, two laps down to winner Alex Bowman. But neither Bowman nor any of the other drivers who finished in the first four positions -- and none of the drivers who led laps at Winchester last season -- return.

Kimmel warmed up for his racing weekend by attending the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway and he pitched right in rebuilding an exhaust system and replacing decals when ThorSport had to bring out a backup truck when rookie Brett Moffitt crashed in qualifying.

Kimmel's buildup to Winchester continues with two meet-and-greet appearances Friday with fans at a pair of Fort Wayne, Ind., Menards stores. Kimmel and his No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota show car will be at the Fort Wayne East location at 5511 Meijer Drive 4-5:30 p.m. ET and at the Fort Wayne South location at 7702 Southtown Crossing from 6:30-8 p.m.

ARCA has scheduled two 45-minute practice sessions Saturday, 12:05-12:50 p.m. ET and 2:05-2:50 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by an ARCA Truck Series (6 p.m.) and an ARCA CRA Super Series Late Model main event Saturday evening at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, ARCA has a frontstretch autograph session from 12-1 p.m. The season's 10th race, the Herr's Chase the Taste 200, is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. NBC Sports will have tape-delayed coverage of the race on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 11 p.m. ET -- the first of four ARCA Racing Series short-track events the network will televise.

Live timing & scoring and audio coverage is available on ARCARacing.com throughout the weekend.

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