SANDUSKY, Ohio (June 18, 2013) — The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards doesn’t have an extensive history of road course racing, but nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel’s still finished in the top 10 in 90 percent of his ARCA road-course starts.
And despite the fact that Kimmel has yet to lead a lap in 10 career ARCA road-course races on five different tracks, he’s confident his current streak of 18 consecutive top-10 finishes in the No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota — the second-best streak of his career after a 21-straight string of top fives that occurred over the 2002-2003 seasons — can continue Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., when the four-mile road course holds its debut ARCA race, the SCOTT 160.
“I think the streak can continue,” Kimmel said. “I feel very confident in the racecar Jeriod (Prince, crew chief) and Rich (Lushes, car chief) and all the guys are bringing me. I’m sure the car will be a lot better than me, but we do have that open practice session on Thursday and that’s going to help me a lot, so I can get familiar with the racetrack, because I’ve never been there.
“We’re going to do the best we can and hopefully come out of there with a top-10 finish — maybe even a top-five — and we’ll just go on from there.”
Ironically, Kimmel’s current top-10 streak began at last summer’s road race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, where ARCA has raced for the past five years. The sixth annual trip to South Jersey is scheduled July 28.
But Kimmel’s next race is at Road America, where ARCA’s last road-race winner, Canadian ace Andrew Ranger and Chase Elliott, who won his first career ARCA race two weeks ago at Pocono and who finished second to Ranger last summer in New Jersey, are both on the 27-car entry list, as is NASCAR Nationwide Series standout Austin Dillon, driving for owner Ken Schrader.
And Kimmel is undeterred because he swears he could have had a top-five finish last year at New Jersey if circumstances, in the form of an over-aggressive fellow competitor, hadn’t worked against him.
“That seventh-place finish really wasn’t indicative of the finish we were gonna have,” Kimmel said. “Late in the race, on a restart I got knocked into the grass by another competitor and we probably would’ve come out of there with a top-five without any problem, if it wasn’t for that little incident.
“I’ve gotten quite used to New Jersey and I’ve gotten used to which turn is coming up next and I obviously feel more confident there than I do at any road course the series has ever been to, just for the fact that we’ve been there for four or five years in a row.”
Kimmel joked after the race at Pocono that his 23-year-old son, Frankie Kimmel, had gotten him a copy of the iRacing application for Road America and that, even though he’s yet to open up the computer with the game on it, he’d given it to a friend back home in Indiana to set up and Frank Kimmel planned to look at it before he traveled to Wisconsin later this week.
“His son has an iRacing setup and I’d at least like to drive around the racetrack a couple times, on the simulator, just to see where it goes,” Frank Kimmel said. “If I don’t get a chance to do that we’ll just do the best we can, Thursday and figure it all out.”
Kimmel has road-raced with ARCA at Heartland Park outside Topeka, Kan.; on the streets of Des Moines, Iowa, in 1994; and at Watkins Glen International (2001) and Palm Beach International Raceway outside West Palm Beach, Fla. (2010).
“Road racing is frustrating, because as an oval-track racer you go out there and run it just as hard as you possibly can, and you’re not fast enough,” Kimmel said. “And a lot of that comes from the driver’s seat. If you put a road racer in the car, he can go out there and pick up a second or two seconds a lap on you, and that’s frustrating because you don’t know where (the speed) is at because you’re trying so hard anyway.
“So that’s a little disturbing to me, but as we’ve gotten a little better with it I’ve really enjoyed doing road races. I think they’re a lot of fun but the big challenge is being consistent and trying to get the best lap time, every single lap because the road-course guys and the guys that are really good at it beat you up on every single turn and when you have a racetrack as big as Road America, if you mess up a couple turns and give up a tenth (of a second) or two by the end of the lap you might’ve given up a second or two.”
Far from being overly daunted, Kimmel’s looking ahead with an attitude similar to what he’d take to Salem or Talladega or Pocono. And it’s just that determination that’s given Kimmel a 100-point lead over Mason Mingus going into the season’s ninth of 21 races.
“You just need to do the best you can on every single turn,” Kimmel said, “You need to get off the turns as good as you can because Road America has got such long straightaways. The biggest key for us is to take care of our racecar and not tear the transmission out of it — make sure we get to the end of the race and stay on the asphalt.”
Kimmel rides into Wisconsin with 78 career ARCA victories, which remains one shy of Michigan native Iggy Katona’s record 79 wins.
At Road American the racetrack is hosting an open practice Thursday consisting of four 50-minute sessions, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. ARCA has scheduled one 145-minute practice session Friday, from 4:05-6:30 p.m.
Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. ET Saturday to set the starting grid via group qualifying. The season’s ninth race, the 160-mile, 40-lap SCOTT 160, is scheduled for a 1:45 p.m. start Saturday, with live timing & scoring and audio coverage available on ARCARacing.com throughout the weekend.
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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 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.