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ARCA: Kimmel Scoops ARCA Cash from the Shady Bowl

28 June 1998

By Don Radebaugh

With a capacity crowd standing by, current ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series point leader Frank Kimmel held off last-lap charges from Jeff Finley and Bob Strait to win the McDonald's ARCA 150 here Saturday night at the one-third mile Shady Bowl Speedway in DeGraff, Ohio and the $11,070 top prize.

Kimmel, who started third in Larry Clement's Green Oak Farms-Visionaire Chevrolet, led comfortably for much of the race until a caution with just a handful of laps remaining allowed the lead-lap cars to take one more shot at the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver. "I was feeling pretty comfortable with my lead most of the way until that last caution," said Kimmel in victory lane. "Then there at the end I got pretty nervous with Finley and Strait in my mirror. But we were lucky enough to hold them off and that's what counts, but the ending was a lot closer than I had in mind. But it sure makes for great race."

Finley, who sat on the pole earning his first career Talladega Pole Award, finished less than a car length behind Kimmel at the checkered flag with Strait, Rick Groetsch and Mark Gibson, who started 18th in his newly sponsored Jani-King Ford, hot on their heels completing the top five.

"As hard as those guys were racing behind me, I think it helped me keep my lead," added Kimmel in the winner's circle. Finley, Strait, Groetsch and Gibson kept the crowd pumped with ongoing battles in and out of lapped traffic that saw them swap positions relentlessly while Kimmel drove away. At the halfway point, Strait found himself turned around in turn two after locking horns with Gibson and had to charge from the tail-end to earn his third place finish aboard Jack Bowsher's Zinsser Paint Specialties Ford. Groetsch, in only his fifth career ARCA start, worked his way into second late in the race and appeared to be tracking down the leader until a spinning car directly in his path cost the N. Ridgeville, Ohio driver two positions.

Eight cautions for 41 laps slowed the race enough to keep the eventual winner within striking distance. However, on each restart, Kimmel was able to drive away; that is until the final caution appeared serving up the exciting two-lap finale. On the final restart, Kimmel didn't get the jump he was hoping for and couldn't shake the four car train stacked up on his bumper. As the leaders raced through turns three and four for the final time, Finley drove the Team 83 Chevrolet to the outside of Kimmel while Strait tried his luck to the low side. With the checkered flag in the air, Kimmel, with Finley to his right and Strait to his left, carried just enough steam to cross the final stripe with the advantage. And even though the exciting conclusion kept Kimmel on his toes to the very end, the veteran ARCA racer led 132 of the 150 grind while Finley held the point for the first 18 circuits.

Kimmel also earned the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leader Award and Gibson picked up the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors while Mark Voigt, by virtue of his sixth place finish, was the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie.