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ARCA: Steele Stands Tall at Pikes Peak

13 July 1998

By Don Radebaugh

In what could possibly be Tim Steele's final ARCA race, the three-time champion went out the way he came; a winner. Steele raced underneath Bill Baird five laps from the finish to win the inaugural Pikes Peak ARCA 150 here Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado claiming his 32nd career ARCA victory in his 90th start. The event also marked a major milestone for ARCA in that the race was the 1,000th ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series race staged by the 46 year-old sanctioning body since the series' inception in 1953.

"It was a great day," said Steele in victory lane. "I'm loving life again. This might be my last ARCA race and if it is, this is the way we wanted to go. We're going to the Brickyard next weekend to test a car for Bud Moore so things are looking promising. I want to thank everyone here at Pikes Peak for this great facility and I also want to thank ARCA for a great series. It's a great place to learn how to race these kinds of cars in preparation for Winston Cup."

Steele raced beneath the checkered flag 1.066 seconds ahead of Baird who held off series point leader Frank Kimmel by a car length for the runner-up position while Dill Whittymore and Rich Woodland completed the top five. Both Baird and Woodland recorded their best career ARCA finishes with their top-five runs.

Although the "man of steel" led 121 of the required 150 laps in his father Harold's HS Die-Softech Ford, it was not without continual pressure from Kimmel who raced inches from Steele's back bumper for most of the afternoon. Kimmel, with less than 20 laps remaining, appeared poised for the winning pass until the final caution of the afternoon appeared when Gary Laton's machine found the turn two wall. While most of the lead-lap cars elected to stay trackside, Steele and Kimmel opted for one final pitstop. However, Kimmel beat Steele off pit road after changing right-side tires only to Steele's four. The race went back to green with 10 laps remaining with Baird on the point followed by Bob Strait, Whittymore, Woodland, Mark Gibson, Jeff Finley and several lapped cars separating Kimmel and Steele from the front. In a daring three-wide maneuver, Steele stood the crowd on end when he drove his Ford Taurus to the outside of Kimmel and a lapped car through turns one and two before sailing by both down the backstretch. But by the time Steele raced his way into second, Baird had built a 10 car-length lead and appeared to be on his way to his first career ARCA victory before the eventual winner tracked him down in the final laps.

Bobby Dotter, making his return to the ARCA series, finished sixth in Sam Potashnick's Chevrolet with Gibson, Finley, Josh Baltes and Strait completing the top ten.

Steele's $20,575 payday included a $3,500 bonus from AC Delco Wire & Cable for capturing the Talladega Pole Award coupled with the win, as well as $500 from Auto Value Parts Stores as the halfway leader. Strait took home the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions as well as the Thermo-Tec Cool Drive award.

Next action for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will be the Pepsi 400k at Pocono Int'l Raceway Saturday July 25th.

Series Point Leaders: Frank Kimmel 2825, Mark Gibson 2505, Jeff Finley 2490, Bob Strait 2420, Andy Belmont 2085, Bill Baird 2065, Josh Baltes 1995, David Boggs 1775, Norm Benning 1750, Curt Piercy 1650.