KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Everyone at Kansas Speedway Friday was part of racing history as Frank Kimmel won his series-record 80th race, plus clinched his unprecedented 10th series championship.
“This is kind of a dream come true, to win the championship and get our 80th win on the same day,” Kimmel said. “It’s a great day for us, a great day for Ansell and Menards. It’s a cool day.”
Kimmel’s historic win broke the tie he had with Iggy Katona, each with 79 prior to the completion of the race.
ARCA Racing Series and Kansas Speedway officials decided to shorten the Kansas Lottery 98.9 by 34 laps due to threatening weather approaching the greater Kansas City area and the desire to clear the grandstands. Lightning was visible in the distance when Kimmel exited the car in front of a celebratory crew and family. Heavy rains hit the track later.
Mason Mitchell, in the No. 82 Happy Cheeks Ford, finished second while Venturini Motorsports cars driven by John Wes Townley, polesitter Dylan Kwasniewski, and Justin Boston finished third through fifth, respectively.
Townley said he thinks he could have won the race had it gone the distance.
“I started moving up, but yeah, I could have caught him,” he said. “That’s just my opinion.”
Townley, who won the season opening ARCA race at Daytona, was trying to become the first ARCA driver since Mike Wallace in 1995 to bookend the season with victories. He started 15th after spinning on his qualifying lap.
“We had a great car tonight,” he said of the No. 15 Zaxby’s Toyota.
Mitchell, the highest finishing rookie thus the SCOTT Rookie Challenge winner, was happy with tying his career high of second. He also finished second at Kentucky Speedway two weeks ago and ended the season with nine consecutive top 10s.
“We started 12th and didn’t move up very much,” he said. “We made a great pit call to get tires early and got track position. It was a good call, the right call. I can’t say enough about this Empire Racing team.”
Boston, in the No. 25 ZLOOP Computer & Recycling Toyota, finished fifth and ended the season with the most points in the SCOTT Rookie Challenge standings for rookie of the year. The winner will officially be announced at the post-season championship awards banquet in December.
“It’s such a huge honor to finish this way in really my first full season,” he said. “To come out here and do that in ARCA is huge. It’s a big deal for everybody.”
His closest competitor in the SCOTT Rookie Challenge point standings was Mason Mingus in the No. 32 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota. Mingus was involved in a crash on lap 34 but battled back to finish ninth. Mingus still finishes the season No. 2 in the point standings to Kimmel.
James Hylton, in his farewell race, finished in the 18 spot, one off his season high. Hylton, 79, retired following the race after more than six decades in the sport.
“It was such an honor to be out there with James Hylton,” Boston said. “It means a lot.”
Kimmel was the leader at the halfway point and the leader when the call was made to end the race with 10 laps to go when the leaders passed the start-finish line on lap 55. His lead widened down the stretch on runner-up Mitchell.
“I saw the lightning off behind the grandstands,” Kimmel said. “I’m glad I didn’t have to make the call, but I was happy about it.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. The guys are so happy and I’m happy for them.”