IRVINGTON, Ala. – Frank Kimmel’s No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota looked a little skinned up after Saturday’s ARCA Mobile 200 at Mobile Int’l Speedway, but the 10-time ARCA Racing Series champion shook it off with a smile, adding yet another top-10 finish, his 33rd consecutive reaching back to 2012.
Kimmel battled from the back-end continuously for a variety of reasons and ultimately finished fifth.
“All in all a pretty good day,” Kimmel said after the race. “We had a car that was set up for long runs. I felt, in the long run, we were the second best car on the race track, but no one had anything for Grant (Enfinger). He was in his own zip code. But I felt like if it had stayed green, we probably had a second or third place car.”
Unfortunately for Kimmel, 11 cautions for 70 laps kept the race pace down so he never got that long run he was hoping for. However, he got plenty when it comes to ARCA’s new double-file restart procedure, a first on a short track for the 62-year-old sanctioning body.
“The double file restarts were interesting to say the least. I can see why the fans love it. It created some excitement that’s for sure; it also created more contact.
“Spencer (Gallagher) got up into us. His car got loose and he corrected up into us. That knocked us back to about 10th and we just kept coming back.
“Then the 66 broke a transmission and we ran over his left rear; I’m glad we didn’t run completely through him. Fortunately, it didn’t get the radiator, and we were able to keep racing.
“All in all it was a good day, a good points day; we’ll take those. We dodged a lot of bullets all day and raced from the back. We didn’t wreck the car too bad.”
But even with the long run scenario, Kimmel admits there was no catching Enfinger, who won his second straight at Mobile.
“No one could run with Grant. We talked before the race. His car was very impressive, even more so than it was last year. He worked really hard on it, and it definitely showed. As good as his car was, let’s not forget how great of a racecar driver Grant is. He’s definitely the complete package.”
While Enfinger, from Fairhope, Ala., was clearly the hometown favorite, Kimmel will get that same opportunity when the ARCA Racing Series returns to Kimmel’s home track – Salem Speedway – for the Federated Auto Parts 200 presented by Crunch’N Nutter Sunday, April 27.
Kimmel hopes to keep his top-10 finish streak alive, but even more so, the Clarksville, Ind., driver would like to revisit victory lane at Salem. He’s the all-time winner at Salem with nine victories, but his last win on the historic, high-banked, half-mile oval was in September of 2008.
“It’s been way too long at Salem; there’s no place I’d rather get it done. But our top-10 streak is a pretty cool deal. I don’t really like to talk about it because I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself. But now to be able to extend that with a new team is really a neat deal.”