Kimmel Stops Steele for Toledo ARCA Gold
30 June 1998By Don Radebaugh
There were funnel clouds reported a few miles to the north and thermometer readings in the 100s but it just wasn't enough to keep the huge crowd away from Toledo Speedway Sunday night to witness the ultra-hot 150 lap duel between ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series point leader Frank Kimmel and three-time champion Tim Steele. Until the fire cooled, the two veteran ARCA racers exchanged the lead eight times before Kimmel took control for good on lap 115 to win the Toledo ARCA 150 and his fifth victory of the season after nine events on the tour.
"That was an awesome race," said Kimmel in victory lane. "I know the fans got their money's worth tonight. Tim's a great champion and we beat one of the best tonight and it feels great. But he sure didn't make it easy, but it never is with him on your bumper."
Kimmel, in Larry Clement's familiar #46 Green Oak Farms Chevrolet, crossed the final stripe two seconds ahead of Steele while Dave Weltmeyer, Bob Strait and Jeff Finley filed in behind, one lap off the leaders. Other than two cautions early on for minor incidents, it went green all the way resulting in no pitstops from the leaders and extremely worn tires by race's end.
Steele, winner of the Talladega Pole Award, charged into the lead at the onset with Kimmel, Weltmeyer, Finley and Strait trailing. Kimmel worked inches from Steele's back bumper before the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver found an opening in turn one and used it to take the lead off turn two. Steele then gave the fans a sneak-preview of what was to come and charged back underneath the temporary leader as they raced down the backstretch to retake the lead. Steele showed the way up through lap 77 before Kimmel used lap traffic to work his way back to the point. Meanwhile, former ARCA rookie of the year Dill Whittymore raced his way into third from his sixth starting position ahead of Weltmeyer, Strait and Finley. Kimmel stretched his advantage to ten car lengths before Steele reeled him in again for another round of battle. This time it was Steele who used the lap traffic to his advantage and raced by Kimmel to lead the 92nd lap. Kimmel answered that just a few laps later with a daring maneuver to the inside of Steele and led up through lap 107 before Steele darted past again. The "man of steel" held on up through lap 114 until Kimmel raced by one final time and stretched his lead to ten car lengths. Although Steele caught the leader again in the final laps, lapped traffic worked against him in this round disallowing the runner-up finisher to get another good shot at the eventual winner. Whittymore, slipping and sliding on extremely worn tires, faded to sixth at the finish ahead of Rick Groetsch, Rick Sheppard, Roger Blackstock and Steve Stevenson to complete the top ten.
Next action for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will come at Pike's Peak International Raceway on July 12th in Fountain, Colorado where the 46 year-old series will sanction their 1,000th event since the series' inception in 1953.