ARCA Champion Kimmel Collects Title Cash
15 December 1998CINCINNATI, OH Frank Kimmel collected the lions share of the record $500,000-plus in year-end awards distributed at the 1998 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series banquet here Saturday night at the Westin Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, then announced that he would return to defend his title. A record 438 attendees turned out for the event.
"Ive got the best ARCA ride I could ever hope to find," said the Jeffersonville, Indiana driver. "So at this point our plans are to return even stronger and win another championship. My car owner Larry Clement continually gives us what we need to win and my crew chief Jeff Lemons keeps our team focused and glued together. You know we didnt have one mechanical failure all year; a testament to Jeff and this volunteer crew who dedicate themselves to this racing grind. I feel like the luckiest guy on earth here tonight. Ive got a wonderful wife and beautiful kids that support this thing a hundred percent. When I had them there at Charlotte in victory lane after winning my first superspeedway race, with our arms around one another, well, it just doesnt get any better. Thats my greatest reward. Thats what its all about. Id like to thank everyone who helped in this effort, and there were plenty, including Dave Embry who gave us a shop to work out of all year, and all the great fans and friends. Id like to thank my sponsors Advance Auto Parts, VisionAire, Riteway Industrial, Jacobi Financial Services and all the rest. Theyre all important. And Id like to thank ARCA and Bondo/Mar-Hyde for their sponsorship. It takes and unbelievable effort to chase this ARCA schedule, to figure out the speedways, the short tracks and the dirt all at the same time. The crews in ARCA are mostly volunteers who come from all directions and assemble on the weekends and hope for the best. Its a wonder they even pull it off at all, but they do week after week. ARCA has made me what I am today and Im proud to be their champion. Its a great series and we look forward to joining the ARCA family in Daytona."
Kimmel and car owner Clement, an Iowa auto dealer, carried off a record $118,240 in year-end monies including point fund contributions from Bondo/Mar-Hyde, ARCA track operators, Hoosier Racing Tire, Auto Value Parts Stores, Racing Electronics, 76 Racing Gas, Eibach Springs, GEO Spray Guns, Marson Rivets, Thermo-Tec, Motive Gear, Performance Profiles, Wallace Race Car Lettering, Nelson Specialties, Fastlane Footwear and Lincoln Welders.
Among the special awards Kimmel won were the Bill France Triple Crown which is a cumulative point total from three very diverse venues; Talladega Superspeedway, Salem Speedway and the dirt mile in Springfield, Illinois epitomizing the versatility of the ARCA series, the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leader, the Thermo-Tec Durable Driver, the Motive Gear Max Performance, the Racing Electronics Lightning Challenge and the Performance Profiles Most Popular Driver.
In addition, Clement won the Superspeedway Challenge Championship. Championship runner-up driver Mark Gibson and car owner Kerry Scherer saw their efforts net them over $50,000 in awards including the QuicShine 99 Best Appearing Car honors for their JaniKing sponsored paint scheme.
Veteran Bob Strait and car owner Jack Bowsher were honored as the 3rd place driver and owner as Bowsher prepares for the 1999 season with Strait expected to return as driver. The driver/owner combination will represent 83 years of experience with Bowsher ready to embark on his 50th consecutive season in motorsports with Strait going after his 33rd.
Driver and owner Bill Baird wrapped up his season 4th in points and took home the STP-Prestone Rookie of the Year award. Baird won the rookie title by just eight points over Andy Belmont who, along with his wife and car owner Jennifer, were honored as the 5th place driver and owner respectively. Drivers Jeff Finley, Curt Piercy, Norm Benning, David Boggs and Brian Conz finished 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th in points respectively and were, along with their respective car owners, honored accordingly as were drivers and owners who finished 11th through 20th.
Other awards presented included the Talladega Pole Award and AC Delco Pole-Win Bonus to Tim Steele, the ARCA Motorsports Media award to ESPN commentator and former ARCA PR Director Ray Dunlap, Clevite Engine Parts Mechanic of the Year award to Lemons, Reed Cams Most Improved Driver to Joe Cooksey, Manufacturers Championship to Chevrolet, the HG Adcox Sportsmanship award to Finleys car owner Ed Rensi, Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger and Prestone Advanced Formula awards to Andy Belmont, the Spirit Award to ARCA Chaplain Bill Krick and the Bob Loga Memorial scholarship awards to Jennifer Thompson and Tasha Cronenwett.
Next activity for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series teams is testing at Daytona Intl Speedway Dec. 18-20 in preparation for the Feb. 7 36th annual Daytona ARCA 200.