ARCA: Swaim Swings Big in Atlanta
7 November 1998By Don Radebaugh
Hampton, GA --- Second generation drivers showed the way Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series season finale when Mike Swaim Jr., aboard the Pennzoil Pontiac, held off Bobby Hamilton Jr. by a half second to win the ARCA Winn-Dixie 250k.
In doing so, both drivers posted their career-best ARCA finishes. For Swaim the victory came in his seventh start while Hamilton, driving a Sadler Brothers entry, recorded his fourth top-five finish in just five starts.
"I'd like to thank (Winston Cup team owner) Bill Davis and his motor program," said Swaim. "We got a good motor from him. It was an SB-2 and it was awesome. I talked to Ward Burton's crew chief and he gave some pointers and that helped us out since we were using their motors. It was just kicking everybody's butt down the straightaways and it was awesome through the corners too. I'd like to thank Barry Owen for helping on the set-up and everyone on the race team. This feels real good."
1998 ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, with an eye on next year, finished a close third. "The Advance Auto Parts-VisionAire Chevy ran great today but it has all year," said Kimmel. "I think we had only 3 DNF's all year so I guess when it's your year it's your year, and this one was ours. For next year there's been some Busch Series talk and maybe a little Winston Cup action every now and then. But right now we're just happy doing ARCA and we'll cross that bridge when it comes to us." Dirt late model driver Darrell Lanigan finished fourth with Jeff Finley, in the Exxon Super Flo Chevrolet, trailing in fifth.
At the onset Kimmel, from outside row one, beat polesitter Hamilton to the first corner and led for 11 laps before Hamilton took control for the next 40 circuits. Hamilton stretched his advantage to five car lengths over Kimmel, Lanigan, John Kinder and Swaim before the caution flag flew allowing the leaders to come down pit road for badly needed service. However, after service was completed on the leader's machine, ARCA officials held Hamilton for overshooting his pit stall allowing Kimmel, Swaim and Lanigan to lead the way off pit road with Hamilton trailing in fourth. When the green flag was unfurled Kimmel held the point up through lap 73 before Swaim raced by for the lead, one he would not relinquish. Hamilton quickly raced his way into second and followed in Swaim's tire tracks with Kimmel, Lanigan, Finley and Jimmy Kitchens lined up nose-to-tail in his mirror. On several occasions Hamilton closed to within a few feet of Swaim's back bumper but in the end fell back five car lengths. Kitchens, with new sponsorship from airJamaica Vacations, held on for sixth ahead of Howard Rose, who subbed for the injured Mark Gibson in the JaniKing Ford, Kevin Ray, Kirk Shelmerdine and Bobby Gerhart to complete the top ten.
Bill Baird's 11th place finish secured the ARCA STP-Prestone Rookie of the Year honors over Andy Belmont who finished 13th. On paper, the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger award went to Gibson, but it was Rose who raced the car from 37th to seventh after relieving the injured Gibson at the first caution. Hamilton picked up an additional $1,000 compliments of Auto Value Parts Stores for leading at the halfway point. Next event for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will be the 1998 awards banquet at the Westin Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 12th.
Final Top-20 1998 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series Point Standings - Frank Kimmel 6155, Mark Gibson 5455, Bob Strait 5240, Bill Baird 4880, Andy Belmont 4690, Jeff Finley 4350, Curt Piercy 4095, Norm Benning 4030, David Boggs 3855, Brian Conz 3780, Joe Cooksey 3550, Chuck Weber 3505, Josh Baltes 2520, Bobby Gerhart 2425, Cavin Councilor 2315, Kirk Shelmerdine 2175, Mike Ciochetti 2140, Mark Voigt 2000, Wes Russell 1595, Mark Stahl 1590.