(TALLADEGA, Ala. – May 3, 2013) – Frank Kimmel won his 77th all-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race Friday afternoon, taking the checkered flag in the rain-shortened International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kimmel, driving the No. 44 Menards Ansell Toyota, took over the lead from Josh Williams on lap 43 and maintained the top position through a series of caution flags and re-starts – and rain.
“It’s great to be back in victory lane,” the 51-year-old Kimmel said. “The last time I won here at Talladega, it was shortened by darkness. The car ran great. I was drafting there with John Wes Townley early and worked our way to the front. I’ve always said you win here with your crew more than anywhere you go.”
SCOTT Rookie Challenge winner Mason Mingus finished second with Caleb Armstrong in third place. Mark Thompson and Terry Jones rounded out the top five. Williams finished sixth.
The cars were brought down pit road for rain and the red flag came out at lap 73.Kimmel’s 77th win moves him one step closer to the all-time ARCA Racing Series leader in wins, Iggy Katona. Katona won 79 ARCA races. It was Kimmel’s second win at Talladega, the other coming in 2006.
“That’s a big deal to me,” Kimmel said about the win record. “I’ve never been a big stat guy, but Iggy was a hero of mine. He raced with my dad.”
Mingus, driving the Diamond Equipment-811 Call Before You Dig Toyota, started and finished second and leaves Talladega second in the ARCA Racing Series points standings behind Kimmel.
“We definitely didn’t want to finish behind Frank,” Mingus said. “But, we finished second to him and we lost as few points as we could. I definitely didn’t want to see that rain.”
Venturini Motorsports driver Caleb Armstrong , in the No. 55 Cometic Gasket-Susie’s Hope Toyota, moved into third place and stayed there until the end of the race.
“We got to the front,” Armstrong said. “I think we could have had something for the leader. … I wanted to get to the front. I definitely didn’t come here to run third.”
Mingus, who drives for Win-Tron Racing, was driving his first race at Talladega.
“I’ve run on two superspeedways before, Daytona earlier this year and now here,” he said. “I learned a lot about superspeedway driving today. My spotter was in my ear a lot.”
Terry Jones had his highest ARCA Racing Series finish ever in the J-AAR Excavating Dodge, placing fifth.
Williams had a great run by staying out on the track for all 73 laps. When the leaders came to pit on lap 29, Williams stayed out, inheriting the lead. He never did make a pit stop.
“We had three gallons left,” said Williams, driving the No. 02 Southwest Florida Cable Construction Ford. “We were hammering on the radar all race. It just happened to work out for us. I would keep shutting my car off under caution and saving fuel.”
The race went caution seven times, including for a 12-car crash before lap 40 that took out pole-sitter Milka Duno.
Four cars were sent to the back after their times were disallowed during Thursday’s qualifying. One of those was Thompson, who still managed the top five finish. Townley, who helped push Kimmel to the lead in his Venturini Motorsports Zaxby’s Toyota, was another driver who had to start at the back because his qualifying time was disallowed. He managed to race his way into the top five before a crash ended his day on lap 28.
Rounding out the top 10 was John Ferrier, George Cushman, Ricky Ehrgott and Matt Kurzejewski. Nineteen cars were on the lead lap when the red flag came out, ending the race.
Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace gave the pre-race, “start-your-engine” command.