SANDUSKY, Ohio (Aug. 13, 2013) — Dirt tracks have formed a solid foundation for Frank Kimmel’s nine-championship ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards career legacy — to the tune of 13 of his record-tying 79 victories — so Kimmel can’t wait for Sunday’s one-day show at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, the Allen Crowe Memorial 100.
This race, which has a 50-year history on the one-mile fairgrounds oval, typically brings out several dirt specialists each year and of late, Kimmel — who has eight Springfield wins on his resume — has a fairly good record against them.
Kimmel’s No. 44 Ansell / Menards Toyota from ThorSport Racing beat Kevin Swindell in 2012 and in consecutive seasons Kimmel’s family-run team handled defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2008 and the legend Ken Schrader in 2007 — all three for victories.
One of Kimmel’s favorite career races, not coincidentally a win, also came on dirt — also in Illinois but at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile oval. In 2001 Kimmel swapped the lead several times with three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart before passing Stewart and pulling out one of Kimmel’s five victories at DuQuoin.
“I’m really looking forward to going to the dirt (Springfield and DuQuoin, Ill.),” Kimmel said. “Because those have been great racetracks for us, where we’ve really had a lot of good luck in the past.”
Kimmel’s career stats at Springfield are typically stunning. In 21 career races there, he has 14 top-five finishes, with four second-places to go with his eight wins. In all, Kimmel has 17 top-10 finishes and only two DNFs — back in 1995-1996 — which is pretty spectacular considering the strain dirt racing puts on equipment.
Kimmel will have his fifth chance to break a tie with Michigan ARCA legend Iggy Katona, with whom Kimmel’s tied for the series career victories record, at 79 wins. But Kimmel isn’t overly stressed about it.
“If (80 wins) is meant to be, this is the stretch in which it should happen,” Kimmel said of consecutive races at Springfield, the Madison, Wis., short track and then on Labor Day Weekend at DuQuoin. “But I’m not counting my chickens. We’ve got to go out and earn the win and run well each week if we’re not able to win.”
Kimmel comes to Springfield with a 195-point lead over leading ARCA Rookie of the Year contender Mason Mingus, who a year ago at Springfield finished eighth as Kimmel led 51 laps, including the final 14 after passing young gun Alex Bowman for the win.
Kimmel’s consistency puts him in a good position to expand that advantage. He’s currently riding a streak of 24 consecutive top-10 finishes. When he won at Springfield last year Kimmel’s streak was only six races old. In 2013, Kimmel’s the only series driver with top-10 finishes in all 14 races — including wins at Talladega, Elko and Winchester.
“We know what to do, and we think we’ve got a really good car for Springfield and DuQuoin,” Kimmel said. “The success we’ve had there helps our confidence level coming into these races, but Jeriod (Prince, his ThorSport crew chief) and the guys have been building their performance curve for two years now.
“As usual, I can’t wait to see what he and Rich (Lushes, car chief) and the guys unload for me. We’ve had really good cars everywhere we’ve gone this year and our results show that.”
One more interesting “dirt specialist” rivalry that’ll play out for the 10th consecutive time at Springfield is between home-state open-wheel veteran A.J. Fike and Kimmel. In the previous nine races, Fike’s only beaten Kimmel twice — but those came in 2009-2010 and this time around Fike’s running a car fielded by another dirt-track veteran, Andy Hillenburg.
Sunday’s abbreviated ARCA program at Springfield has a single one-hour practice from 9-10 a.m. CT. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. to set the starting field. A local Sportsman division feature is scheduled to run at 12 p.m.
Sunday’s 100-lap, 100-mile event is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:30 p.m. CT. It will be telecast tape-delayed on the NBC Sports Network on Friday, Aug. 23 at 11 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring is available throughout the day on the Web atwww.arcaracing.com, including audio coverage of the Allen Crowe Memorial 100.
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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 Tracy Hines in the Truck Series and the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota Camry driven by Frank Kimmel in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.