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ARCA: Ken Schrader Shows the way on Illinois Clay

25 August 1998

By Don Radebaugh

With a rare Sunday afternoon off from the NASCAR Winston Cup world, Ken Schrader opted for an ARCA ride in one of Ed Rensi's Chevrolets and drove it to victory lane before a packed house in the 16th annual Allen Crowe Memorial 100 on the one mile clay oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Schrader held off Frank Kimmel by a half car length to claim his fifth career ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series victory and first-ever for car owner Rensi.

After leading most of the way, Schrader nearly saw it all go away on the final lap when Kimmel showed the leader a large portion of his race car off turn four. "I saw more of Kimmel than I wanted to that's for sure," said Schrader in victory lane. "I had about five car lengths on him going into three but got myself behind that lapped car and he got a real good run on me off four. Fortunately, it wasn't quite good enough, and we were able to hold him off. The Hoosier tires worked great all day long, and I had Wally Dallenbach spotting for me today and Ed Rensi brought out a real nice race car so we had a lot going for us. This is great. I always wanted to win an ARCA race here."

Mark Gibson finished a close third with Bob Hill in the Roulo Brothers Chevrolet fourth, and Brad Dubil in tow to complete the top five. The event marked the return of Hill to the ARCA series after more than a year's absence. After the 1996 season, Hill headed south to serve as shop foreman for the Sabco Racing #40 Coors Light Winston Cup team where the four-time ARCA winner continues to be employed. For Dubil, it was his best career ARCA finish.

Schrader started from the pole and led 76 of the 100 lap race but it wasn't just Kimmel who gave the versatile winner fits. Gibson was glued to Schrader's bumper for much of the way and, on several occasions, drove his Jani-King Ford Thunderbird alongside to challenge but wasn't able to make the pass.

Schrader led the first 11 laps before Bob Strait raced Jack Bowsher's Zinsser Paints Ford Thunderbird to the inside to challenge off turn two. The two veteran stock car stand-outs raced door-to-door for three laps before Strait made the pass. Strait then held the point for the next 24 rounds before giving it back to Schrader when the Mokena, Illinois driver came down pit road for service. Strait quickly maneuvered his way back up front to challenge the leaders again but late-race engine troubles relegated the 13-time ARCA winner to 12th in the final running order.

Eight cautions for 44 laps kept the field tightly bunched and allowed Kimmel, who was forced to pit three times, to stay in the hunt. Kimmel continually raced the #46 Visionaire Chevrolet from the rear of the pack and finally charged to the inside of Gibson for second on lap 84 when the Winder, Georgia driver got loose off the corner and opened up the bottom lane. Veteran stock car racer Butch Garner finished sixth with Norm Benning seventh and Curt Piercy, the last car on the lead lap, coming home eighth giving Benning and Piercy their best runs of the '98 season. Joe Cooksey and Mike Lorz, one lap down, completed the top ten. Benning received the Thermo-Tec Hard Charger Award for his effort and Kenny Brown, who started 33rd and finished 15th, won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions.

SERIES POINT LEADERS: Frank Kimmel 3670, Mark Gibson 3320, Bob Strait 3190, Jeff Finley 3035, Bill Baird 2795, Andy Belmont 2610, David Boggs 2325, Norm Benning 2275, Josh Baltes 2235, Curt Piercy 2215.