When he turned 50, ARCA Racing Series legend Frank Kimmel figured he’d slow down. Instead Kimmel, now 51, is speeding toward history.
The driver from Clarksville, Ind., is one win shy of tying Iggy Katona for most ARCA wins in series history at 79. What better place for Kimmel to tie Katona than Winchester Speedway? Kimmel has a series-record five victories at the track. He goes for No. 6 when ARCA visits the legendary half-mile, high-banked — and highly intimidating — track 2 p.m. Sunday for the Herr’s Chase the Taste 200.
“I’ve said all along you many never win another one so to think you’re one away, that’s pretty special,” Kimmel said. “Iggy Katona was a hero of mine racing against my dad. To be mentioned in the same breath as him is pretty cool.
“We’ve gone (to Winchester) in the past and told (the crew) the only thing holding the car back now is me. You have to run so hard around the track. It’s such a cool track and it has a lot of grip. It has a couple different grooves … that makes for hard racing. It is a little bit of an intimidating place anytime you go to a place with these high banks. It’s fun to race.”
That can be said for most tracks Kimmel has visited this season. He’s guided the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota fielded by Sandusky’s ThorSport Racing to the top of the ARCA points. Kimmel has nine ARCA titles overall with his last coming in 2007. Teaming up with ThorSport has rejuvenated Kimmel’s career and put him on pace for yet another championship.
“The ThorSport team I drive for now, and the race cars they bring us, they’ve all worked so hard on giving me the best race cars on the track. It’s a really cool feeling to know every time you go to the race track you have a car capable of winning. If you run up front and get good finishes the points will take care of themselves,” Kimmel said. “I always said I wouldn’t race past 50 very much. Right now I’ve almost felt like I’m in a second career with the team I’ve got and the support with Ansell Gloves and Menards on the car. Right now it’s a pretty good time to be driving a race car.”
Kimmel’s first ARCA victory came in 1994 at Toledo Speedway. Of those 78 wins, 28 have come on different tracks including 14 dirt. He’s also finished in the top 10 in 75 percent of his races in his career. His 22 superspeedway wins ranks him second to Tim Steele’s 24 and his nine short track wins at both Salem, Ind., and Toledo are also ARCA records. As for Winchester, his last win came in 2006.
Alex Bowman won last year’s race.
“It’s a lot like my home track which is Salem Speedway. They’re sister tracks and I’ve had a lot of success at Salem over the years,” said Kimmel, whose won two poles at Winchester. “I just relaly enjoy Winchester. It’s a fun place. You can pass there, it’s really fast. It’s just a cool race track”