Tuesday, May 22, 2018

ARCA: Will Kimmel finds Kimmel Racing’s first last-place in a season marked by early start-and-parks

Kimmel at Talladega earlier this season
PHOTO: Kimmel Racing Facebook
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Will Kimmel recorded the 6th last-place finish of his ARCA Racing Series career in Sunday’s Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at the Toledo Speedway when his #69 FASS Diesel Fuel Systems / Kimmel Racing Ford fell out after 19 laps due to mechanical issues.

The finish came in Kimmel’s 113th series start and was his first since Elko last year, 19 races ago.

By now, the Kimmel family name has become almost synonymous with the ARCA series. Frank Kimmel, of course, has had arguably the most successful career of anyone who has driven in the series, and is still hard at work as a crew chief. His relatives have soldiered on from their Clarksville, Indiana base. Bill and Will Kimmel have traditionally run a relatively competitive team on a small budget, always putting on strong shows at their beloved home track, Salem Speedway. Last year, the team campaigned a number of drivers, including Kimmel and Kevin Hinckle for eight races apiece to fill out the majority of the schedule.

Unfortunately, like all race teams, this one is not immune to financial problems. Before the season, Kimmel and the team announced a seven-race slate with sponsor FASS Diesel Fuel Systems as well as plans for Hinckle and David Sear to run a couple races. The team also announced an alliance with Finney Racing Enterprises for that team to utilize the owner points of the #69 in select races. Still, however, not all the races were covered. In an effort to likely keep valuable owners points up and to receive extra funding from the sanctioning body for attempting all races, Will Kimmel has been forced to "start-and-park" races not covered by any of the aforementioned scenarios. This weekend was one of these, as the team said in a Monday Facebook Live from the shop that Toledo would be a "start-and-park" effort due to insufficient funding.

The initial entry list for Toledo had 24 cars. Not among them for the first time in over 100 races was Thomas Praytor, who announced earlier this month that his #9 Max Force Racing team would scale back to a partial schedule in 2018. Also, for the second-straight race, Chad Bryant Racing withdrew their #22 entry without ever naming a driver, bringing the entry list down to 23. They did, however, confirm plans for a full season with driver Joe Graf, Jr. Two debut drivers also showed up on the entry list: Venturini Motorsports development prospect Eddie Fatscher in the #55 and KBR Development driver Carson Hocevar. Former ARCA champion Grant Enfinger returned to the series, teaming up with another former champion, Mason Mitchell.

The lone practice session saw 63-year-old Rick Clifton take last on the speed charts. Toledo was Clifton’s second race of the year with Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing team. His lap was about a second slower than session leader Chandler Smith’s time. Alas, qualifying was washed out by the rain that moved through that afternoon, so by virtue of practice speeds, Smith lined up first and Clifton last.

The last-place battle was hampered by the malfunction of ARCA timing and scoring for the opening handful of laps. Kimmel was the first to retire, going out after completing 19 laps. Con Nicolopoulos followed him 13 laps later. Immediately farther up the leaderboard saw big names fall to tire failures – Christian Eckes, Gus Dean, Riley Herbst and Sheldon Creed all fell victim to some kind of problem.

23) #69-Will Kimmel / 19 laps / mechanical
22) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 32 laps / unknown
21) #15-Christian Eckes / 70 laps / tire
20) #32-Gus Dean / 92 laps / tire
19) #18-Riley Herbst / 155 laps / running

1st) Max Force Racing, Darrell Basham Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing, James Hylton Motorsports, Kimmel Racing (1)

1st) Ford (3)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)


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