SANDUSKY, Ohio (April 30, 2013) — Frank Kimmel’s unique in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards’ history, as a nine-time champion. But Kimmel falls in step with the masses when it comes to this weekend’s venue, the Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s a crapshoot race, so you’ve just got to get in line (and draft),” Kimmel said last weekend at The Salem Speedway, which precedes Talladega by less than a week and ironically is one of the series’ smallest tracks while Talladega is the longest. “We’ll just qualify in the top 20 and then race all day long and see where it falls out in the end.”
Kimmel and his No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota team from ThorSport Racing do have a leg up on all but two of the 40 entrants in Friday’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250, though.
Kimmel’s won both a pole (2004) and a race (2006) at the massive 2.66-mile speedway, while speedway ace Bobby Gerhart has a win (2001) and three poles and Tom Hessert, who last weekend won his second consecutive Salem race by knocking home-track favorite Kimmel aside in the closing laps, won the 2009 pole at “The World’s Fastest Speedway.”
But in the last 20 races on ARCA’s two largest tracks — Daytona and Talladega — Kimmel has an impressive record consisting of 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, including two runner-up results (2007 and 2011) at Talladega.
When you add-in Kimmel and crew chief Jeriod Prince’s fourth-place finish in the Daytona season-opener and the fact that Kimmel carries a 30-point lead over Tennessee 18-year-old Mason Mingus into the fourth of 21 races this season, that gives Kimmel’s young team added confidence.
“We had a good car at Daytona and I know Jeriod and the guys are bringing the same car to Talladega,” Kimmel said. “So I think we’ll be OK. For us the racetracks are really the same. We know it’s going to be fast and we just have to get through the circumstances — get through the wrecks if they happen — and not get yourself all messed-up over anything.”
Kimmel’s ThorSport Racing crew was remarkably calm at Salem, given the nature of what happened to them with an almost sure victory in sight. The uncertainty of Talladega might be another test.
“With this championship as close as it appears to be shaping up,” Kimmel said, “we just have to keep our nose clean and get to the end.”
“What we want to do at Talladega is just survive — stay in line and play the fuel mileage game and get another top-five,” Prince said of his primary car, which finished fourth at Daytona. “We had a really good car at Daytona so I think we’ll be fine at Talladega.
“If we can continue getting these top-five finishes we’ll be all right. At Talladega you have the one-race guys that come in to run the big tracks and they’re gonna be good — they usually win the race — but there’s no reason we can’t win, either.”
Talladega has a unique three-division schedule, with the ARCA Racing Series sharing the track with the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series, which race Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
ARCA inspection is all-day Wednesday before Kimmel and his crew attend Wednesday night’s Birmingham Barons’ minor-league baseball game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, where Kimmel will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the AA Southern League’s North Division leader.
Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is ARCA’s feature event on Thursday, scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET, following three hours of practice, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. On Friday, a 55-minute final practice is scheduled at 11 a.m. ARCA will open the garage area to fans from 1-2 p.m., with the season’s fourth race, set for 94 laps, scheduled to get the green flag at about 5:15 p.m.
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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.