By Konnie McCollum
(May 2008) After 10 successful years that included nine championships, most people wouldnt dream of leaving their team. But the thought doesnt worry nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel.
Kimmel, 45, and his brother and crew chief, Bill, 50, left Larry Clements Tri-State Motorsports at the end of last season to form their own team in 2008 called Kimmel Racing.
Distance: 100 laps, 150 miles (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Race: 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10
Admission: $35. Gates open at 3 p.m.
Website: arcaracing.com or www.KentuckySpeedway.comAlso at the Speedway:
ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series Kentucky 100, 5 p.m. Saturday.
Country music singer Rissi Palmer performs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.ARCA RE/MAX Drivers to Watch:
Frank Kimmel, Borden, Ind. The nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion is a three-time defending champ of this event.
Bobby Gerhart, Lebanon, Pa. The 49-year-old veteran ARCA driver is a force to challenge Kimmel for the title.
Justin Allgaier, Springfield, Ill. The 21-year-old was the points leader early in the season. This is his third year on the circuit.
We felt it was a good time for us to leave, said Frank. We wanted to get this going for our families.
Bill is a seven-time SKI Hand Tool Crew Chief of the Year. Their father, Bill Sr., was a three-time RE/MAX Series winner.
The new team, located in Clarksville, Ind., has gotten off to an excellent start in the 2008 season series. At the Feb. 9 season opener at Daytona, defending champion Kimmel drove the No. 44 Dodge Charger to a fifth-place finish. In Salem, Ind., on April 13, Kimmel finished fourth in his No. 44 Ford Fusion. On April 19, he finished third at the Prairie Meadows 250 in Newton, Iowa.
Kimmel is now preparing for his return to the Kentucky Speedway to vie for the race title May 10 in the Drive Smart, Buckle Up! Kentucky 150.
This will be the second year that the Kentucky Department of Transportation has sponsored the race to promote seat belt use and driver safety.
Kimmel is a four-time ARCA RE/MAX Series race winner at Kentucky. He also is the 2007 defending series champion and currently ranks second in the points standing. Justin Allgaier won at Salem in April to take the lead in points.
The move to form a new Kimmel race team was motivated by their desire to create a legacy for their families. The Kimmel brothers each have sons who are also involved in racing. Will Kimmel, Bills son, and Frankie Kimmel, Franks son, are both planning careers in the industry.
We realized that if things ended today, wed have nothing, said Frank. With our own team, we have something to give our families.
At the beginning of the year, securing sponsorship was a major concern for the new team.
Procuring sponsorships is imperative to getting top notch equipment, including cars and engines, explained Frank.
Its always tough starting out, he said. We knew in this tough economy it was going to be hard work.
Kimmel Racing started the season with a Dodge supplied by ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor Cunningham Motorsports. In April, however, Ford Motor Co. agreed to sponsor the fledgling team.
With Ford as our sponsor, it gives us prestige and credibility, particularly when we call other potential sponsors, Frank said.
As far as strategy goes, the Kimmels have no plans to change their winning ways. Ive been doing this a long time, said Frank, a record eight-consecutive series winner. I plan to continue doing what Ive always been doing.
Kimmel has won the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 1998 and the years 2000-2007. He is the all-time leader in ARCA RE/MAX purse winnings. At the end of last season, he was second on the all-time win list with 71 victories. He also has 207 top-five finishes and 258 top-10 finishes in 349 starts.
In 2006, Kimmel became the first ARCA RE/MAX Series driver to be assigned a seat in the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series. This unique event was promoted as an equivalent of an All-Star Game or The Masters. Drivers raced identically prepared stock cars set up by a single team of mechanics in an effort to make the race purely a test of driver ability. It was run with a small field of invited drivers. Kimmel raced that year on a road course at Daytona, where Tony Stewart won.
There will be 21 races during the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season, including two at the Kentucky Speedway. The Kentucky ARCA 150 will be run on July 18, prior to the July 19 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Built FordTough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers. The season will close on Oct. 12 at the Toledo Speedways Toledo ARCA 200 by Belle Tires.