SALEM, Ind. (April 28, 2013) — Salem Speedway record-holder Frank Kimmel was bitten twice by “short-track surprises” in the last 10 laps of Sunday’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 presented by Crosley Radio, which knocked him into a battle-scarred sixth-place finish.
And though in the end Kimmel’s seemingly-sure 10th Salem victory went away — depriving him of his 77th career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards score as well — Kimmel still left Salem with an unofficial 30-point lead in the series championship over rookie Mason Mingus, who finished 10th.
“This car’s been fast everywhere,” Kimmel said, after entertaining a horde of his home-track fans beside his battered Ansell /Menards Toyota on the Salem frontstretch. “It was a really good day for us, to lead a lot of laps and actually, the car didn’t have a scratch on it until right there at the end — so it was just a frustrating day.”
With 10 laps left on the high-banked .555-mile oval, Kimmel had a 1.4-second lead over Spencer Gallagher when he came up on the lap-down car of Milka Duno. Because of Duno’s erratic lines, Kimmel had to hesitate in getting past her, and Gallagher pounced on the chance to get beside Kimmel coming out of Turn 2 on the 193rd lap.
“Milka cost us all our lead — I don’t know what she was doing,” Kimmel said. “She was [a lap] down and with the leaders coming, late in the day like that you expect her to get out of the way — and I thought she was. I thought she moved over on the front straightaway and then she pinched me into the wall going into Turn 1.
“I got up into the bad stuff (marbles) and then Spencer got a run on me and he run all over me all the way down the backstretch and I don’t understand that, because we had plenty of room to keep going and I don’t know why he was hitting on me like that.”
Gallagher banged side-to-side with Kimmel all the way down the backstretch before pulling ahead in Turn 3.
“I think that messed something up on the left front tire because it wouldn’t turn any more after that,” Kimmel said. “And then I went into Turn 1…”
On that next lap, going into Turn 1, eventual race winner Tom Hessert — who scored his second consecutive Salem victory by coming from behind on four fresh tires while Kimmel and Gallagher had only two — made contact with Kimmel, spinning the nine-time ARCA champion into the outside wall, bringing out the final caution and setting up a green-white-checker finish.
“Tom just ran over me — he didn’t even give me a chance,” Kimmel said. “So I don’t get it.”
After his Victory Lane ceremony, Hessert didn’t look happy — all he wanted to do was find Kimmel and explain his side of the deal. The conversation didn’t get far before the men went their separate ways.
Coming into Salem, Kimmel and crew chief Jeriod Prince had bemoaned their inability to find an acceptable long-run handling package. At Salem, Kimmel repeatedly left the field behind on restarts and drove away from all challengers in the second half of the race, ultimately leading 90 of the race’s final 101 laps.
“We ran pretty good, but we were still tight in the middle of the corners so we’re going to go and test at Toledo so we can figure that out,” Prince said of the site of the series’ May 19 round. “But as a big-picture day, it was a pretty good day for the championship.
“I guess any day that you come home with a sixth-place finish with a car that needs a rear (chassis) clip and half a body, I guess that’s not too bad a day.”
Despite qualifying three spots behind Mingus, Kimmel goes to next weekend’s fourth race of the season, on Friday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, unofficially 30 points in the lead in the 21-race championship.
“It ended up as a bad day because of the way it finished up,” Kimmel said “But I guess it was a good points day. I hate that we tore the body off the car because now the guys have to go home and repair it and get it going again.”
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ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured active NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. Thorsport, which has run full-season Truck Series schedules annually beginning in 1998, in 2013 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 SealMaster Toyota Tundra driven by Todd Bodine in the Truck Series and the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota Camry driven by Frank Kimmel in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.