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ARCA: Frank Kimmel Finds Victory at Charlotte

17 May 1998

By Don Radebaugh

With well over 100,000 fans standing by, Frank Kimmel drove by, and waved to his massive audience as the current ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series point leader cruised beneath the checkered flag under caution to win the EasyCare Certified 100 Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kimmel, aboard Larry Clement's Advance Auto Parts-Visionaire Chevrolet, led the final 12 laps of the 67 lap, 100 mile race to earn the $19,720 top prize and first ever victory on a superspeedway. Kirk Shelmerdine, who led the most laps, finished second ahead of Mike Ciochetti, who scored his career-best ARCA finish, with Ron Barfield and Mark Gibson completing the top five. In the end, 21 cars finished on the lead lap in the most competitive ARCA race ever at Charlotte.

. "We had 30 laps to go and I knew we had to mind our business to get back to the front," said Kimmel in victory lane. "I knew I had to stay patient." Kimmel, who had to work his way back up front from the middle of the pack following a pit stop for fuel and tires, raced underneath Shelmerdine through the tri-oval to take the lead for good as the leaders were completing lap 55. Kimmel's patience paid off when, with five laps to go, the yellow flag waved for a Matt Mullins crash between turns three and four that would end the race under caution thereby securing the win for the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver.

Polesitter Gary Laton took off like a rocket at the onset and led the first 26 laps before the second of four cautions sent the leader, and most of the frontrunners, down pit road for fuel and tires. While most took on four tires, Shelmerdine went with fuel only and led the pack off pit road to inherit the lead. When racing resumed, Shelmerdine jumped out to a huge advantage while Laton and Kimmel struggled through traffic.

The struggle got worse for Laton when the Albemarle, North Carolina driver had to brake hard to avoid an accident in turn four that involved Glen Morgan and Sammy Potashnick. After driving through scattered debris, Laton had to pit again for tires relegating him to the tail-end of the field while Kimmel, Barfield, Gibson and Ciochetti, who all managed to avoid the incident, found themselves closer to the front.

Shelmerdine led the next 29 laps before Kimmel took command for the final 12. Near the end, Ciochetti turned up the wick on his Hughes Supply Ford and raced by Gibson and Barfield for third. And before the final caution was unfurled, Ciochetti had already tracked down Shelmerdine to race for second, but the yellow halted his gallant charge for good.

Defending NASCAR Goody's Dash champion Mike Swaim, Jr. finished sixth ahead of dirt late model ace Darrell Lanigan, Andy Belmont, Rich Woodland and Laton who fought back to finish tenth.

Belmont was the highest finishing rookie and was awarded the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors after advancing 22 spots from the 30th starting position. Shelmerdine picked up the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leader award and the additional $1,000. Rookie Carl Long, in his first ARCA start, was the BSR Second Round Fastest Qualifier. The AC Delco Wire and Cable Pole Win Bonus award grew another $1,000 to $5,500 and will be up for grabs at Memphis Motorsports Park on June 7th to any driver who can win from the pole.

SERIES POINT LEADERS: Frank Kimmel 990, Mark Gibson 890, Andy Belmont 735, Bob Strait 730, Jeff Finley 680, Kirk Shelmerdine 640, Billy Venturini 600, Andy Hillenburg 575, Gary Laton 575, Josh Baltes 565.