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NASCAR In Joliet: Frank Kimmel going strong in ARCA Series

Frank Kimmel | Supplied photo

Frank Kimmel | Supplied photo

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NASCAR
in Joliet

Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Laraway Road and Route 53, Joliet

SATURDAY

NASCAR Nationwide practice, 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

ARCA practice, 4:10 p.m.

Traxxas TORC Series dirt-track racing, 7 p.m.

SUNDAY

NASCAR Nationwide qualifying, 10:05 a.m. (ESPN2)

ARCA qualifying, noon

STP 300 driver introductions, 1:30 p.m.

STP 300, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

ARCA driver introductions, approximately 4:30 p.m.

ARCA race, approximately
5 p.m. (Speed)

Also: Classic car show in Champions Park, 8 a.m.; Marty Casey and The Lovehammers concert, noon

Tickets: STP 300 tickets can be bought in advance and start at $30 for adults, kids are $25 off regular full-price admission. Tickets can be purchased on race day starting at $35. Traxxas TORC Series $20, kids 12 and younger $10. Parking is free. For tickets, visit
www.chicagolandspeedway.com or call (888) 629-7223.

Updated: August 22, 2013 6:47AM



Frank Kimmel’s father started racing cars in the 1940s, so it’s almost as if Kimmel was destined to do the same.

And with the season the Borden, Ind., resident is having, Kimmel is doing the family name proud.

Kimmel enters Sunday’s ARCA Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet as the ARCA series leader, 175 points ahead of Mason Mingus at the season’s halfway point.

“Our season has been going very well. We’ve been really competitive,” Kimmel said. “We’ve won three races (Talladega, Ala., Elko, Minn., and Winchester, Ind.) and we’re leading the points.”

Sunday’s ARCA race follows the NASCAR Nationwide STP 300. That’s the way of life for ARCA drivers, who don’t get nearly the following or attention as the sport’s Sprint Cup or Nationwide drivers.

Kimmel knows this, and realizes that ARCA has morphed into more of a breeding ground for up-and-coming drivers instead of a circuit for those who race purely for the love of it.

“We are like AA baseball, and we have to understand where we’re at, since Sprint Cup gets a lot of press and attention,” Kimmel said. “It’s still the most economical (circuit) to race in.”

Kimmel thinks ARCA is going through the same issues that are plaguing other motor sports. Because of economic issues, fields in ARCA races are getting smaller, as they are in other circuits, such as the open-wheel Indy Lights series.

“Car counts are down and fields are smaller, so they’re feeling the brunt of the (poor) economy,” Kimmel said. “But the cars are as good as I’ve ever seen in ARCA. There are 10 or 12 cars that can win each race.”

One thing that’s changed in ARCA is the average age of drivers. Kimmel said that number is around 25. Kimmel is 51. He won the series’ Rookie of the Year award in 1992 when he was 30.

“After 1992 was when I was really able to race and make a living at it, and by the late 1990s I made it a full-time profession,” Kimmel said.

He never stopped racing and has won nine ARCA championships. The victory Kimmel earned at Winchester was the 79th of his career, tying him with Iggy Katona as the series’ all-time winningest drivers. Kimmel last won at Chicagoland in 2003. There have been no repeat ARCA winners at the Joliet oval.

It’s likely younger drivers will look to Kimmel for experience and some guidance as they work around Chicagoland’s 1.5-mile D-shaped oval. Kimmel is used to giving advice, and usually speaks at the rookie meetings before races.

There may be someone else who soon will look to Kimmel for advice.

“My son (Frankie) is 22 years old,” Kimmel said, “and he’s dying to race.”



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